For men’s basketball, shooting woes lead to second-straight loss

Minnesota shot just 37.7 percent from field goal range against Penn State.

Junior center Reggie Lynch and freshman guard Amir Coffey defend against junior guard/forward Bashir Ahmed at Williams Arena on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. The Gophers won 92-86 against St. John's University.

Chris Dang, Daily File Photo

Junior center Reggie Lynch and freshman guard Amir Coffey defend against junior guard/forward Bashir Ahmed at Williams Arena on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. The Gophers won 92-86 against St. John’s University.

Jack White

The Gophers didn’t find resiliency from loss for the first time all season over the weekend.

No. 24 Minnesota (15-4, 3-3 Big Ten) lost 52-50 to Penn State (11-7, 3-2 Big Ten) in State College, Pennsylvania on Jan. 14.

“It was about as disappointing as it gets,” head coach Richard Pitino told reporters. “Not sure what we were doing at the end.”

The loss marked the second consecutive conference defeat for Minnesota and the fourth consecutive time Penn State has defeated the team.

Minnesota lost its lead with six seconds to go in the game when point guard Tony Carr hit two free throws at the line. The free throws were his only two points of the game.

The Gophers trailed for just 45 seconds in the second half.

After Carr helped Penn State take the lead, Minnesota guard Nate Mason missed a long three-point shot off the backboard. The ball went right to guard Akeem Springs, but he couldn’t finish the contested layup for the tie.

Nittany Lions forward Payton Banks missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds to go, but guard Josh Reaves rebounded the ball. Gophers forward Eric Curry blocked Carr’s shot on the next possession. Mason fouled Carr on the inbound pass after the block.

Center Reggie Lynch was the only Minnesota player who tallied double-digit points with 12. Lynch didn’t foul out for the first time in two games and played a total of 32 minutes. Lynch’s 32 minutes were tied for a season-high.

The Nittany Lions tied the game on a 9-2 run in the second half. Forward Mike Watkins had five points during that stint.

“[Watkins] is a very good player off the pick-and-roll,” Lynch told reporters. “So you’ve always got to make sure that when you’re defending the screen-and-roll that you’re able to contest the dribble.”

Penn State’s shot defense improved greatly in the second. The Nittany Lions held Minnesota to 28 percent from the field in the second compared to 46.4 in the first.

Minnesota took a 10-point lead into halftime. Not a single player had double-digit points, but five different players scored five or more.

The Nittany Lions scored as the first half came to a close when point guard Shep Garner drove into the paint and passed to Watkins under the rim. Watkins caught the pass and dunked the ball with 1.1 seconds to go.

The Gophers mostly held off the Nittany Lions in the first half. They kept Penn State at 28.6 percent from the field, and got out to an early lead when they started the game with a 9-4 run.

Guard Amir Coffey started out the game going 2-2 with a made jump shot and layup during that stretch. However, Coffey would finish with just six points in the game.

Coffey caught a pass in transition with 8:13 to go in the second half. Reaves went up to contest the shot and clipped Coffey’s body, bringing him to the ground. Reaves was tagged with an intentional foul, and Coffey was visibly shaken up after the play.

Mason scored seven points in the game, the lowest amount he’s had since Dec. 23, 2015.

The Gophers have gone 0-2 since earning a top-25 ranking in the Associated Press poll. Minnesota plays No. 18 Wisconsin at home for its next game.

“We didn’t block out twice, we got stops, obviously,” Pitino told reporters. “You hold a team to 30 percent, you think you have an opportunity to win the game.”