Minnesota’s season ends after loss to Rutgers

The Gophers came into the tournament as the No. 11 seed.

Jack Warrick

The Gophers finished their season with a loss to the last seed in the Big Ten tournament.

Minnesota (15-17, 4-14 Big Ten) started and ended its run in the Big Ten tournament in New York City with a 65-54 loss against No. 14 seed Rutgers (14-18, 3-15 Big Ten) Wednesday night.

“Just being able to be here for four years, going on the rollercoaster ride that I’ve been on, giving it my all,” guard Nate Mason told reporters. “It means a lot having a wonderful group of staff around me when I’ve played here all four years. It means a lot, and it sucks to go out like this.”

The Gophers couldn’t score when it counted, as they needed points to pull ahead of the Scarlet Knights in the final minutes. Guard Isaiah Washington scored the first basket in almost six minutes with 52 seconds left on the clock to put the Gophers within six points, but it wouldn’t be enough.

“Everybody was hungry for this win. It was a whole new season. everything was behind us,” Washington told reporters. “And just to come up short, it really hurt. All these guys, we really play hard for one another, and just to lose, it really hurt.”

Rutgers’ guard Corey Sanders went 9-20 from the floor to finish with a team-leading 23 points in the victory against Minnesota. 

“[Mason] was cramping up,” head coach Richard Pitino told reporters. “And [Sanders] was playing really good one-on-one basketball.”

Minnesota was dominated in the paint and the team got out-rebounded 49-28 at the final.

Minnesota’s leading scorer this season, forward Jordan Murphy, had just 11 points. Washington led the Gophers with 18 points, with Nate Mason just behind with 12 points.

Minnesota beat the Scarlet Knights 89-67 to open up the Big Ten season in December when the team was playing with guard Amir Coffey and center Reggie Lynch.

“I think there’s a reason why we struggled,” Pitino told reporters. “So I think when their expectations were high, we had a full roster. When we lost players, obviously it changed.”