Minnesota stops losing streak by beating Penn State in overtime

Freshman Jamir Harris scored a career-high 16 points on his birthday.

Freshman guard Jamir Harris pushes through Green Bay defense at Maturri Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Easton Green

Freshman guard Jamir Harris pushes through Green Bay defense at Maturri Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 5.

by Jack Warrick

Freshman Jamir Harris earned his first career start on his birthday against Penn State.

Harris scored 16 points in 36 minutes, both career highs, which helped the Gophers earn a present with their 95-84 overtime victory on Monday at Bryce Jordan Center.

Harris, who filled in for the injured Amir Coffey, scored 10 of his points in overtime. He helped Minnesota bounce back from its three-game losing skid with the win against Penn State (13-7, 3-4 Big Ten). Guard Nate Mason led the team in scoring with 25 points.

“To get a road win under adverse circumstances that we’ve had is terrific,” head coach Richard Pitino told reporters. “We showed unbelievable heart.”

After swapping leads with the Nittany Lions early, the Gophers pulled away with a 13-point lead at 8:56 to play. Minnesota coughed up its lead in the end of regulation when Penn State’s Tony Carr hit a 3-point shot with three seconds left to make it 74-74.

But Minnesota would respond.

Harris sunk back-to-back 3-point shots in overtime. Shortly after, he drove to the net for the layup, giving the Gophers a 10-point lead in overtime. Forward Michael Hurt, who also had his birthday on Monday, started at that position the past three games, but head coach Richard Pitino opted for a smaller guy who can shoot better.

“I thought we needed some more scoring in there and obviously he can shoot the basketball,” Pitino told reporters. “It was one of those rare moves that worked, so you’ll take credit for it when you can.”

Forward Jordan Murphy, who had 17 double-doubles to start the season, scored 22 points in the game. He also grabbed 19 boards, earning him his first double-double in the last three games.

“We competed in practice the days before coming up here,” Mason told reporters. “We knew what we needed to do to win. We had to play harder than anybody else.”

Guard Dupree McBrayer shot 8-13 from the field for 24 points. The Gophers (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten) shot 53 percent from the field and 59 percent from behind the 3-point line. Penn State wasn’t as hot, shooting just 45 percent on field goals and 32 percent from beyond the arc.

The Lions were led by Carr, who tied his career-high in points with 33. Penn State center Mike Watkins had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in overtime.

“I think we were giving [Watkins] different looks,” Murphy told reporters. “I think that got to him a little bit and inevitably got him out of the game.”

The Gophers will continue their three-game road stretch at Maryland (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten) on Thursday.