Gophers lose ugly, 74-69, to Boilermakers

Michael Dougherty

Boilermakers-Gophers basketball games have never been accused of being a thing of beauty, and Wednesday night was no different. Purdue polished just enough grime off its game to scratch, elbow and claw out a 74-69 win at Williams Arena.
After winning nine straight home games, fans are accustomed to seeing Minnesota coach Dan Monson happily lead the crowd through the Minnesota Rouser.
Funny how that Rouser didn’t have the same “umph” after a loss.
But thanks to 7-of-22 shooting performance from the free throw line, Monson’s demeanor wasn’t that of a happy coach.
“I know you’re going to ask me about the free throws,” Monson said in the press room. “I just don’t know what to tell you.”
Also searching for answers was center Joel Przybilla. The sophomore, who despite his fifth-straight double-double (13 points, 16 rebounds), was a horrific 1-of-11 from the foul line. That’s 9 percent. Nine percent.
“I don’t know, they just weren’t falling,” he said. “I never had that happen to me, not that bad.”
Przybilla was held to just three points in the first half on 1-of-3 shooting. He was hounded on the offensive end by Purdue seniors Greg McQuay and Brian Cardinal even though both players were giving up 5 inches.
Boilermakers coach Gene Keady called it the best defense his team has played all season, and called it a situation where, “our experience was the difference.”
Keady said it was just basic post defense, not anything out of the ordinary, but Monson said his young team isn’t adept enough at picking up simple defensive schemes.
“They were sagging from the weak side and we’re not very experienced at reading those things,” Monson said. “They’re as good a defensive team as you are going to see in the country.”
Boilermakers seniors Jaraan Cornell (a season-high 25 points) and Cardinal (18 points) almost outscored the Gophers by themselves in the first half 29-27. Purdue never gave up the lead and headed to the locker room with a 39-29 advantage.
However, the Gophers picked up the intensity on the defensive end in the second half. They closed the Boilermaker lead to 48-46, thanks to nine points from forward Dusty Rychart.
But a 7-0 run sparked by Cornell put the game out of reach for good.
“It seemed like every time we tried to climb out of the hole somebody would keep kicking us back down,” said Rychart who led the team with 19 points.
Rychart said he’s all for the whole school-spirit thing that the postgame rendition of the Rouser is all about.
But it just ain’t the same after getting thumped.
“Hey, winning at home and doing the Rouser in front of the fans is great,” Rychart said. “But when you lose, you just want to go crawl in a hole.”

Michael Dougherty covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]