Gopher hoops blow out Bethune-Cookman at Barn

by Sarah Mitchell

It was an unusual sight.
With little more than three minutes remaining in the Minnesota men’s basketball team’s 93-70 defeat of Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, the Gophers’ regulars took to the bench as walk-ons Randy Chall, Wade Hokenson and Justin Lorang replaced them.
Having built a reputation for taking games down to the wire, Minnesota (8-1) actually had room to breathe.
It was a nice change of pace.
“This is what we really wanted to lay down,” Gophers forward Michael Bauer said. “We had a lot of close games and we needed one to be about 30 points. That’s what we were looking for.”
Despite being 8-1 on the year, Minnesota needed Saturday’s blowout. After two narrow victories in the past week — a 64-53 win over Morris Brown and a 61-50 overtime defeat of Marquette — a drubbing of the Wildcats was just what the Gophers needed.
Even Minnesota coach Dan Monson could find little to be displeased about.
“I don’t know that any coach has a game like that where he’s happy with everything,” Monson said. “But given the week we’ve had, I’m relatively pleased with our performance.
“I would say I’m guardedly pleased with the game.”
An offensive showdown, and a game in which they never trailed, was the Gophers cure-all.
Finding ways to score inside and out, Minnesota posted its second best shooting percentage of the year at 55.2 percent. The Gophers shot 55.6 from the field against Texas- Christian earlier this season.
Bauer led Minnesota with 18 points while junior forward Dusty Rychart chipped in 17 and senior forward John-Blair Bickerstaff added 16 points.
“I thought our offense was the aggressor. It was proactive. It was not waiting to see what the defense was going to do to react to what we were going to do,” Monson said. “We got the ball where we wanted. Once you get an inside presence like we got, it opens up the jump shot a lot more.”
With the help of Bauer, Rychart and Bickerstaff, several of the Gophers walk-ons were rewarded with playing time.
For Minnesota’s regulars, the appearance of Chall, Hokenson and Lorang was two-fold.
“It was great to have those guys at the end of the bench go out there and get some playing time,” Rychart said. “And the guys that play a lot got some time to sit on the bench and rest up their legs.”
On rested legs, Minnesota prepares to host Louisiana Tech on Tuesday.
Sarah Mitchell covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]