Players fumbling in the final minutes of the game once again kept the Gophers from picking up their first conference victory this season.
Minnesota’s guards scored a combined 50 points on the road against Indiana on Saturday, but the Hoosiers went on an 8-1 run in the final four minutes to win 74-68.
“I know people make fun of us and our record and so on, but I’m real proud of these guys,” head coach Richard Pitino said to reporters after the game. “They’re fighting.”
The team’s losing streak grew to 11 with the loss, the longest for the program since the Gophers lost 16 straight in the 1986-87 season.
Minnesota’s young guards, sophomore Nate Mason and freshmen Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer, went toe-to-toe with Indiana’s high-powered offense in the game, holding the Hoosiers to an 11.1 shooting percentage from three.
Dorsey scored a career-high 21 points in the game, which Mason matched. McBrayer added eight points and tied Mason with five assists and two steals.
“[Dorsey] was as calm as I’ve seen him,” Pitino said to reporters. “He’s a tough cover.”
The Gophers got out to a quick 7-0 lead against the Hoosiers, with four points from Mason and a 3-pointer from redshirt junior forward Charles Buggs.
But the team’s momentum halted when freshman forward Jordan Murphy headed to the bench with two early fouls, a recent pattern for the San Antonio, Texas, native.
Minnesota trailed Indiana 39-27 at halftime, with Indiana ending the half on a 39-20 run after a slow start.
The Hoosiers shot 45.45 percent in the first half, while the Gophers shot 32.35 percent.
Indiana picked up nine points early in the second half as the Gophers tried to answer, stretching its lead to as high as 16 points.
Trying to speed up the game, McBrayer, Mason and Dorsey all scored early in the half.
“We’re going to make mistakes, but that’s not an excuse,” McBrayer said after the team’s loss to Purdue. “We’ve got to grow up fast, and we’ve got to grow up on the fly.”
Dorsey broke his career high in points with 14 minutes left in the game and continued to attack the basket.
The guards eventually gave the Gophers their first lead of the game with just less than four minutes left when McBrayer scored on a transition dunk to make the score 67-66.
But once again, the team was unable to hold on to a late lead, as the Hoosiers came back to win on their home court. The loss marked the fifth consecutive time the Gophers lost by single digits this season.
“Are we the best team? No,” Pitino said to reporters after the game. “We’re extremely young; obviously we kind of knew that. I’m very proud of these guys. We’re down 16 on the road, and we come back and take the lead. That showed great poise and heart.”