Late push not enough for Gophers men’s basketball in loss to Maryland

The Gophers are now 0-7 on the road and have lost six of those by double digits, including Sunday night’s loss to the Terrapins.


Nur B. Adam

Guard Marcus Carr shoots at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Minnesota Golden Gophers won against Green Bay Phoenix 99-69.

AJ Condon

The Gophers’ men’s basketball team had a slow start that set the tempo for the rest of the game. The leaders on the team couldn’t figure out how to get shots to drop, and Minnesota continued its road struggles. Maryland had a comfortable double-digit lead for almost all 40 minutes and ultimately won 72-59.

The Gophers seemed to be back on the right track up until they went back on the road. After back-to-back wins, including a top-25 win against the Boilermakers, Sunday felt all too similar.

In the first meeting between these two, the Terrapins got off to a 17-3 lead, and they almost matched it this time around. Between missed shots from the Gophers and laziness on the defensive side, Maryland jumped out to a 16-3 lead.

“We came out slow, defensive wise, we just weren’t on the same page. They made a lot of tough shots, a lot of wide-open shots,” Gophers junior Gabe Kalscheur said.

Even with the height advantage, the Gophers couldn’t get junior Liam Robbins too involved early. It didn’t help his case as he picked up two fouls early and made his way to the bench for the better part of the first half.

On the defensive side, the Gophers were allowing easy shots both outside and in the paint, and Maryland took advantage of it. They shot 5-of-8 from deep and 58.6% from the field in the first half, and Minnesota was unable to get even close to matching that.

“We were not very good defensively, they were just beating us off the bounce,” Gophers’ head coach Richard Pitino said. “They were just quicker to the basket than we were, and we were not connected defensively at all.”

The Gophers have struggled tremendously on the road shooting the ball and continued that trend in this contest. They made just eight shots total in the first half while shooting 29.6% from the field.

Though the second half featured an improved performance from Minnesota, the first half deficit was too much to overcome. The production was coming from an unconventional group for Minnesota and showed a look into the Gophers’ young guys.

Freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr. recently set a career-high with an 11-point performance against Nebraska, and he surpassed that Sunday as he scored a team-high 14 points. Mashburn Jr. was the Gophers best player on offense and a big reason for Minnesota’s comeback.

After trailing by as many as 19, the Gophers went on a run late and were able to cut the lead down to just six points. That was the result of playing better defensively and turning it into a good offensive performance.

“A sense of urgency was there just cause it was late [in the] clock and we had to have a sense of urgency or we were gonna get blown out. That just has to be from the jump, from tip off, just having that sense of urgency for a full 40 minutes,” Mashburn Jr. said.

It was too little too late for Minnesota as its late run came up short and they ultimately lost another road game by double-digits.

“I feel like the offense, in the second half, we picked it up. We were communicating more and I feel like we just need to do that for a full 40 minutes and we could’ve won the game,” Kalscheur said.

Alongside Mashburn Jr., sophomore Isaiah Ihnen had his best game in the maroon and gold. He set his own career-high and finished second on the team with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting including two 3-pointers.

“Isaiah is a great player. Once he has his confidence, and he’s talking to people, and just doing, not thinking. He’s a terrific player… he’s great, we need that every night from him moving forward,” Mashburn Jr. said.

Sophomore Tre’ Williams has jumped into the starting lineup over the past month and also provided double digits in the loss. After scoring just two points in the first half, Williams connected on two deep balls and a pair of free throws to get up to 10 points on the night.

The three underclassmen played very well in the loss and showed what could potentially be the future of the team.

“Those guys stepped up and made some really big plays. We didn’t win, but hopefully that can build some confidence for some of those young guys,” Pitino said.

The Gophers had some internal struggles that they also were dealing with to go alongside the on-court struggles. Robbins was dealing with a sprained ankle throughout the game and was only able to play 18 minutes.

Redshirt senior Brandon Johnson has been dealing with a finger injury and also was on the wrong end of some physical plays in the paint. He got hit in the face twice while trying to box out for rebounds, both resulting in common fouls.

He finished with just five points, ending his double-digit scoring streak, all coming from free throws as he went 0-for-4 from the field.

The final injury Minnesota was dealing with was with junior Both Gach, who was dealing with a foot injury as well and only played four minutes.

The Gophers don’t have much time off to lick their wounds and are right back in action Feb. 17, when they travel to face Indiana.