Gophers lack toughness in overtime loss to Texas Tech

David La Vaque

Though Minnesota’s loss to Texas Tech on Saturday would need an extra five minutes of overtime for completion, the Gophers showed early and often that they lacked the toughness to win.

The Gophers (6-3) dropped a 99-89 decision to the Raiders thanks to 20 turnovers, most of which were of the soft variety. Minnesota made several runs during the game, but each one was tempered by signs of weakness –sloppy ball handling in the post- or second-chance points by Texas Tech.

“I told our guys the toughest team would win,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “And they did. We got physically dominated.”

Guard Ben Johnson added: “We weren’t tough enough to get stops. They were a good, physical team that knew their roles and we didn’t have an answer today.”

A season-best Williams Arena crowd of 14,156 saw the Gophers erase a 10-point deficit with 2:18 remaining to force overtime, but the surge couldn’t fool the Raiders. Texas Tech (8-1) gave Minnesota its first home loss of the season on the strength of 25 points in overtime.

Forward Robert Tomaszek led the way for the Raiders, scoring a game-high 28 points while adding 16 rebounds, both marks ranking as the most compiled by a Gopher opponent this season. But Tomaszek’s four first-half steals stood out for Monson.

“Our big guys must take responsibility for taking care of the ball in the post,” Monson said. “We fed the post and then Tomaszek gets four steals.”

Tomaszek’s play set an ominous tone for the Gophers, who despite 22 points from Rick Rickert, never settled in down low at either end.

Texas Tech led 37-30 at half-time after going on a 10-2 run. Tomaszek led all scorers with 14 points in the first half and was the only player from either team in double figures. The Raiders poor free-throw shooting (3 for 9) prevented them from taking a bigger lead.

Surprisingly, the absence of leading scorer Andre Emmett did not. Two fouls left Emmett able to play only nine minutes in the first half, but his teammates did not fold.

“For us to be up seven at the half was key to our game today,” Raiders coach Bobby Knight said. “Our guys didn’t lose their sense of purpose even though he wasn’t on the floor.”

Minnesota opened the second half with some energy after Rickert converted a three-point play to cut the Texas Tech lead to four. Down the stretch, the Gophers pressed on both ends to force overtime, but the Raiders weren’t fazed.

“They sensed they let something slip away,” Knight said. “To their credit, they came out and won it.”

Minnesota’s Maurice Hargrow scored a career-high 24 points, while Rickert pulled down a career-best 11 rebounds.

Hokenson out

Monson said sophomore guard Wade Hokenson will be out six weeks with a broken jaw.

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]