Gophers rally, falter late in loss to Michigan

Minnesota played from behind all game long and failed to execute down the stretch once again.

Junior forward Rodney Williams dunks in the first half against Appalachian State Tuesday at Williams Arena.

Erin Westover

Junior forward Rodney Williams dunks in the first half against Appalachian State Tuesday at Williams Arena.

Charlie Armitz

The Gophers basketball team fell to 0-2 in conference play Sunday with a 61-56 loss at No. 16 Michigan.

In many ways, this loss was similar to Minnesota’s conference-opener, which it lost 81-72 to Illinois in double overtime.

For the second straight game, the Gophers proved they could compete with a top Big Ten team on the road. They proved they could rally from a deficit in the game’s final minutes to put themselves in a winning position.

With three minutes left and Minnesota trailing 55-50, Julian Welch hit two consecutive 3-pointers to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 57-56. The Gophers then forced a miss and took a timeout with a chance to take their first lead of the second half.

But they were held scoreless the rest of the game, with their last three possessions resulting in a shot clock violation and two missed 3-pointers.

Welch and Rodney Williams each had 11 points to lead Minnesota. Freshman Trey Burke led Michigan with 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

Both teams shot below 31 percent from the floor in the first half, which ended with Michigan leading 23-19. During one 7-minute stretch, the Gophers shot 0-for-9 and failed to score a point.

Yet they fought back to a 35-35 tie in the second half and kept the game within seven points the rest of the way.