Gophers drop the ball in eighth straight Big Ten loss

Men’s basketball has lost nine games in a row for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Forward Gaston Diedhiou consoles freshman guard Dupree McBrayer during the overtime period at Williams Arena Saturday evening. The Gophers fell to Illinois, with a final score of 71-76.

Sam Harper

Forward Gaston Diedhiou consoles freshman guard Dupree McBrayer during the overtime period at Williams Arena Saturday evening. The Gophers fell to Illinois, with a final score of 71-76.

Ryan Falk

It took a late collapse, but the Gophers managed to keep their long losing streak alive.
 
 
An overtime 76-71 loss to Illinois at Williams Arena on Saturday extended the team’s losing streak to nine games, including a 0-8 run to open Big Ten play.
 
 
The last time the Gophers lost nine games in a row was at the end of the 2006-07 season, which included a first-round exit in the Big Ten tournament.
 
 
Minnesota led by five late in the second half, but the Illini used a 16-0 run starting at the end of regulation to force overtime and secure a victory  during the extra period.
 
 
“I definitely thought we had [the victory],” senior forward Joey King said. “It was our first time playing with the lead in a while, and we made a few mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot.”
 
 
The Gophers’ mistakes included misses at the free throw line, where the team only made six of its 12 shots. Minnesota also had 14 turnovers that the Illini turned into 16 points.
 
 
Sophomore guard Nate Mason still had a chance in the final seconds of regulation to win the game and end his team’s long stretch of futility, but his deep three-point attempt was off the mark. It only counted as another missed opportunity for the Gophers, who let the game slip out of their grasp in front of a crowd of 11,026 people.
 
 
“That was definitely not the play we wanted to run,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “I didn’t want an NBA three at the end.”
 
 
Minnesota ended up taking 36 shots from three-point range in the game, making 11.
 
 
“I don’t want to shoot that many [three-pointers],” Pitino said. “We kept talking about driving the zone, getting two on the ball, attacking. Certainly, we just didn’t do that. It was way too many threes.”
 
 
The game started with both teams running up and down the court quickly. Freshman forward Jordan Murphy had two quick fouls and was sent to the bench during the first few minutes.
 
 
The Gophers still got out to a 15-6 lead six-and-a-half minutes into the game and eventually pushed their lead to 24-14.
 
 
The Gophers defense, which hasn’t been performing well during the losing streak, stifled the Illinois offense at the beginning of the half. The Illini started the game shooting 1-9 from the floor.
 
 
Illinois turned around its offense, though, to go on a 13-0 run and take a 27-24 lead. The Illini continued to score in the half’s final minutes and led 35-30 at the break.
 
 
The Gophers were outrebounded 26-16 in the first half and ended up losing on the boards 49-38 in the game.
 
 
King gave Minnesota the lead back in the second half with two three-pointers, but the Illini answered with two threes of their own.
 
 
Mason scored 11 consecutive points for the Gophers to give his team a late lead, and Williams Arena erupted with Minnesota leading 59-55.
 
 
The Gophers couldn’t keep the good feelings going, as Illinois went on a run to tie the game and then blitzed Minnesota in overtime.
 
 
The Illini’s late stretch kept them from being the team to end the Gophers’ string of losses.
 
 
“We were stunned pretty much the whole overtime, I think,” Murphy said. “I mean, we just have to get it done. It doesn’t get [much] simpler than that. We got to get it done.”