Kalscheur’s game winner lifts Gophers past Washington

Minnesota wins all three games at Vancouver Showcase to remain undefeated

Freshman Gabe Kalscheur floats the ball in on Monday, Nov. 12 at Williams Arena. The Gophers beat the Utes 78-69.

Tony Saunders

Freshman Gabe Kalscheur floats the ball in on Monday, Nov. 12 at Williams Arena. The Gophers beat the Utes 78-69.

Nick Jungheim

Gabe Kalscheur wasn’t prolific throughout Wednesday night’s contest against Washington like he was Tuesday night against Santa Clara.  However, with the game on the line, the freshman proved why he’s gotten the start in each of the Gopher’s five wins to start the season.

Minnesota (5-0) fought hard through long stretches of offensive struggles to pull off a dramatic 68-66 victory over Washington (4-2) to win the inaugural Vancouver Showcase tournament.  The game came down to the last possession, when Kalscheur forced up what essentially amounted to a 21-foot floater that miraculously hit nothing but twine to give the Gophers a two-point lead with two seconds left.

“Better to be lucky than good,” head coach Richard Pitino told the Gopher radio network after the game.  “I thought that [Kalscheur] did gather himself well, he’s a great shooter, he deserves success, he’s a terrific kid.” 

For much of the evening, it appeared Minnesota was destined to suffer their first loss of the season.  They trailed by as many as nine as the offense once again came out ice cold, mustering only 20 points in the first half.  Kalscheur and senior Jordan Murphy, the two players most instrumental to the Gopher’s win over Santa Clara were quiet in the opening period as both battled foul trouble.  However, both once again proved vital in Wednesday’s victory.

Murphy went into the locker room after the first half without a point or field goal attempt.  However, the team’s best player took charge in the second half.  When all was said and done he lead the team in points with 18 and, unsurprisingly, in rebounds with 11.  It was his fourth double-double of the season.  

“[Murphy] was in foul trouble but we just said, ‘we have to pound him inside’,” Pitino told the Gopher radio network.  “We had to duck in, we had to keep going inside and just attack them from the inside to the out.”

This is now the third consecutive year Minnesota has started 5-0.  They will hope this season will turn out more like 2016-17 when they made the NCAA tournament than last season when they finished just 15-17.

The Gophers will travel cross-continent for their next game, once again to take on a high-major opponent.  On Monday, they will play Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts as part of the Big Ten/ACC challenge.

“Our identity has got to be grit and toughness,” Pitino told the Gopher radio network. “I’m happy for all of them, they deserve success and we still have a long way to go.  We can get a lot better.”