Humphries’ heroics sink Hoosiers

Adam Fink

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. ñ All season long, Minnesota men’s basketball coach Dan Monson has stressed two “F” words with his players: focus and fun.

Before Wednesday night’s game against Indiana, he added a third: finish. And they did, stealing a 73-71 win from the Hoosiers on two free throws by freshman Kris Humphries in the waning moments.

The game was tied at 71 with less than 10 seconds left in regulation when Indiana’s Ryan Tapak missed a three-point attempt. Humphries pulled down the rebound with two hands and was fouled by George Leach with 3.6 seconds left.

Humphries, who missed four free throws in the first half, drained both foul shots before a raucous crowd at Assembly Hall on Wednesday night to give the Gophers the win on their only lead of the second half.

Leach, who scored a career-high 26 points, could only watch from the bench after picking up his fifth foul.

“I work on these situations shooting under pressure,” Humphries said. “I was just playing the game. The guards did a great job of playing unselfish and giving me the ball.”

Tapak regrets giving Minnesota the opportunity.

“If I would have known how much time was left, I wouldn’t have shot it,” he said.

It was the Gophers’ (10-14, 2-10 Big Ten) first conference road victory since defeating Penn State on Feb. 19, 2003, and Minnesota’s first win in Bloomington since 1990.

Humphries was at his best against the Hoosiers (12-11, 6-6), scoring from inside the paint, the free throw line and three-point range.

The freshman scored a career-high 36 points, including 25 in the final stanza, and added 12 rebounds. He provided much of the Gophers’ offense in the second half when they fought back from an 11-point deficit.

He also avenged a poor shooting performance against the Hoosiers on Jan. 24 when he shot just 7-for-26. This time, he was a robust 12-for-22.

“(Humphries) is unbelievable,” center Jeff Hagen said. “He is so strong with the basketball.”

Facing an eight-to-11-point deficit for most of the second half, the Gophers didn’t wilt. Minnesota kept turning to Humphries, and he kept scoring.

In addition, Indiana started running out of post players. The Hoosiers’ four big men combined for 16 fouls, with the majority coming at Humphries’ expense.

Only Leach’s fifth foul could take him out of the game. The senior, averaging 7.7 points per game, dominated inside with a variety of soft jumpers, baby hook shots and powerful dunks.

Unlike the loss at Michigan State last Saturday, in which they didn’t score in the final 6:14, the Gophers finished this game strong.

Brent Lawson’s three-point play tied the game at 71-71 with 14 seconds left before Humphries won the game.

“A lot of teams lose focus when they get behind,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “We got some stops, and we didn’t panic.”