Gophers lose to Badgers in overtime

The Gophers are now on a nine-game losing streak with the overtime loss.

Jack Warrick

Few teams in the Big Ten could’ve used a victory more than Minnesota on Monday night.

After an expulsion and the announcement of a season-ending injury of two former starters, tacked on to an eight-game losing streak, the Gophers mustered up the energy to get back on the court and face the Badgers.

Minnesota held a three-point lead with 14 seconds left, but a clutch finish allowed Wisconsin (13-16, 6-10 Big Ten) to beat Minnesota (14-15, 3-13 Big Ten) 73-63 in overtime in Madison, Wisconsin.

“That was very, very devastating but we have to regroup,” head coach Richard Pitino told reporters. “We totally got worn down in the end and made some crucial mistakes.”

With 14 seconds left, forward Jordan Murphy hit one of two free throws as the fans yelled “airball, airball!” at him for missing earlier in the game. That made the score 59-56. 

Then, Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson hit one of his two free throws and the missed one was picked up by a teammate, which led to a Wisconsin timeout.

“We made two big mistakes at the end,” Pitino told reporters. “A free throw block-out that we talked about, and we wanted to foul Happ, and for some reason we weren’t able to do that.”

Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ scored a layup to tie it up with five seconds to play. Nate Mason had the one chance to win outright but he got tripped up driving to the net and the game went into overtime.

Murphy said he thought the trip on Mason should have been a foul.

“I definitely got to take a look at it again, make sure I’m right about it, but I think he pretty much got tripped,” Murphy said. “But I mean at the end of the game they’re not really going to give us the calls or any calls in general.”

The Gophers faltered in overtime. The Badgers outscored the visitors 14-4 and won by 10 points.

Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzel had 20 points — six in overtime — and Brad Davison had 19 points.

Wisconsin was coming off the biggest win of it’s season — a close game against No. 6 Purdue on Thursday, while Minnesota’s loss streak increases to nine games.

Murphy passed Mychal Thompson’s 1975-76 season record for most double-doubles in a season for a Gophers basketball player. He got his 22nd double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out late in overtime. 

Forward Michael Hurt had one of his best first halves of the year to lead Gophers with 10 points, in the first half score of Wisconsin winning 35-34. Hurt would end with a season-high 15 points and eight rebounds in the loss.

“Coach told me to be aggressive out there, you know, can’t have it all on Nate and Murph’s shoulders,” Hurt said. 

Guard Dupree McBrayer returned to the lineup after sitting out two games with a leg injury. He had no points in the first half but figured out his game in the second half to score eight points in the game.

The Gophers have two more games in the regular season and their nine-game losing streak is the worst in the Big Ten.

Minnesota will play its last home game of the season against Iowa (12-17, 3-13 Big ten), which is on a five-game losing slump, on Wednesday.

“It is what it is. We got to prepare for Wednesday, senior night, and let our seniors go out on their last game at the barn strong,” Murphy said.