Gopher hoops survive Hugley’s explosive game, beat Pitt 54-53

Minnesota’s disadvantage down low finally came to hurt them Tuesday night, but a last-second basket pushed the Gophers ahead.

Forward Eric Curry shoots the ball at Williams Arena on Saturday, Jan. 19,2019. The Gophers defeated Penn State 65-64.

Jack Rodgers

Forward Eric Curry shoots the ball at Williams Arena on Saturday, Jan. 19,2019. The Gophers defeated Penn State 65-64.

by AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

Senior Luke Loewe’s first basket of the game was the biggest shot of the night for Minnesota. With two seconds left, Loewe put back a missed layup for the game-winning basket. Panthers forward John Hugley was unable to be stopped for the majority of the game, but it wasn’t enough.

The Gophers behind sophomore Jamison Battle and senior Payton Willis combined for 31 points en route to a 54-53 win. Battle led the team with 16, with Willis close behind with 15.

After a slow start to the second half, Battle got Minnesota out of its funk and hit back-to-back threes to climb back to within two. A mid-range pullup from Battle tied the game at 42.

In the final stretch of the game, neither team could really pull away.

Minnesota found themself in a hole, continuously getting fouls on defense and allowing offensive rebounds. It wasn’t until the five-minute mark of the second quarter that the Gophers shot their first two free throws, which Battle split.

Hugley, the 6-foot-9 sophomore, exploded for 15 points in the first half, including a three-pointer to close out the half. His night was far from over. He accumulated a double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds, including five on the offensive side.

Minnesota didn’t help themselves much in the game with plenty of scoring droughts in both halves.

In the first half, it took nearly four minutes for either team to score a bucket, while the second half was just under two and a half minutes. Fortunately for Minnesota, Pittsburgh also struggled to start the game.

Redshirt senior Eric Curry forced two travels within the first nine minutes of the game but ran into foul trouble, which limited his minutes.

Minnesota is on the road again on Sunday against Mississippi State before opening up Big Ten play against Michigan State Wednesday night at the Barn.