Gophers season ends with loss to Maryland
Minnesota fell in the second round of the Big Ten tournament
CHICAGO — Welp, the Gophers men’s basketball team should choose to remember their win over Nebraska on Wednesday. That’s because their second-round Big Ten tournament game went wayward like most of their last-place regular season.
Sixth-seeded Maryland had too much firepower in a 70-54 win over 14th-seed Minnesota on Thursday in Chicago. Maryland will play No. 3 seed Indiana on Friday night.
The Gophers (10-21) held Maryland without a basket in a four-minute stretch in each half, but didn’t have enough offense from its primary sources.
Thursday was also forgettable for Jamison Battle. The forward, who is leaning toward turning pro before next season, didn’t get on the scoreboard until 28 minutes were gone. He finished with two points.
Leading scorer Dawson Garcia managed only six points after playing 40 minutes Wednesday.
Freshman center Pharrel Payne was one off his season high with 17 points, along with nine rebounds.
The Terrapins (21-11) were a 13-point favorite after beating Minnesota by an average of 26.5 in two regular-season wins.
Minnesota had beat Nebraska 78-75 in the first round on Wednesday, the program’s first conference tourney win since 2021. Games on consecutive nights caught up to the underdog Gophers.
“We will talk about the year and be thankful for everybody that contributed,” head coach Ben Johnson said on the KTLK-FM postgame show. “They gave their all every single day and this year wasn’t easy for anybody. They showed up every single day willing to work and were great teammates and fought all the way until the end.”
Foul trouble also took its toll with Garcia, Josh Ola-Joseph and Jaden Henley each with four fouls with 14 minutes remaining. Henley fouled out with seven minutes left, pushing Minnesota’s rotation from seven to six players.
Terrapins forward Donta Scott reached his 11-point season average in the opening 14 minutes, had 16 in the first half and finished with 20.
Maryland’s 31-24 halftime lead was due to 3-point shooting, making 6 of 12, including four from Scott. Minnesota struggled with the Terps’ pick-and-pop action for multiple open looks from deep.
Minnesota picked up two wins in the previous week, with a victory over Rutgers at Williams Arena last Thursday. Johnson said he liked how the defensive intensity picked up.
“But we are still a work in progress and we got a lot of holes we got to fill,” Johnson said. “So it will be a fun, exciting offseason getting ready for next year.”
Minnesota fell to 21-25 all-time since the Big Ten tournament started in 1998. It was the first conference tourney matchup against Maryland.
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