Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, left, avoids a sack by Northwestern's Ben Oxley during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Minneapolis. Northwestern won 24-14. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

FOOTBALL
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When he was an assistant at Northern Illinois, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck once cold-called Pat Fitzgerald for a lunch meeting to learn about being a head coach.

A decade later, Fitzgerald and his Northwestern Wildcats are still teaching teams like the Gophers how to win in the Big Ten.

Isaiah Bowser rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 24 Northwestern turned three turnovers by Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan into 10 points on the way to a 24-14 victory on Saturday that stretched its program-record road winning streak to eight games.

“The teams that win in our league are the teams that have the sustainability over the long period of time,” Fleck said. “You have to earn that, but they have that.”

Clayton Thorson completed 15 of 21 passes for 230 yards without a turnover and had a 13-yard touchdown run in the first half for the Wildcats (7-4, 7-1, No. 22 CFP), who have their best Big Ten record since 1996 when Fitzgerald was in his final season as a player.

Nate Hall had two interceptions for the Wildcats, who have won 14 of their last 15 conference contests, including 11 games in a row against opponents within the West Division they clinched the week before. Hall, who also made the tackle on a fourth-and-1 stop of Seth Green at the Northwestern 26 in the second quarter, was ejected for targeting on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Morgan in the fourth quarter.

“A very businesslike championship-type approach to the week culminated with a very businesslike win,” Fitzgerald said. “I thought our guys were very focused.”

Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown and Blake Cashman had a sack among his career-high 20 tackles for the Gophers (5-6, 2-6), who fell to 4-13 in conference play under Fleck.

With a kickoff temperature of 23 degrees, which was actually slightly warmer than when Minnesota beat Purdue here last week , Thorson and the Wildcats played the field-position game well. The secondary missing three injured starters complemented a strong pass rush led by Joe Gaziano, who forced a fumble by Morgan with a sack in the fourth quarter, setting up a short field goal.

That came right after a 68-yard completion on third down from Thorson to J.J. Jefferson, who slipped past freshman safety Jordan Howden and was tackled at the 2 before Bowser’s second score.

Morgan finished 19 for 32 for 197 yards and a late touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson, who topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Minnesota’s streak of four straight games with 400-plus total yards, the longest for the program in more than 12 years, was stopped.

“They’re fighting for bowl eligibility. We knew we were going to get their best shot,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what jumps out to me so much about our defense.”

MONEY MAN
Cashman, a senior playing in his final home game, had a career performance. Fleck said he planned to have the team review all 20 of the former walk-on’s tackles this week to be reminded of what full effort looks like.

“I’m very excited to see where this team goes,” Cashman said, “and one day I’ll come back here and I think we’ll see a lot of success.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS
After cracking The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season following last week’s win at Iowa , Northwestern will remain a ranked team for now. The Wildcats aren’t part of the College Football Playoff conversation, but to be headed for the Big Ten championship game in December after losing at home to Akron and starting the season 1-3 in September is quite an accomplishment.

The Gophers were actually favored by two points on the final betting lines.

“That was a joke,” Fitzgerald said, adding: “The level of respect for the guys in that locker room is not very high because of a couple games earlier in the year.”

THE TAKEAWAY
Northwestern: Fitzgerald implored his team to maintain a “pedal-down” mentality despite the outcome of this game having no bearing on the Wildcats’ bid to become Big Ten champions and reach the Rose Bowl. Right after the Gophers tied it with 2:18 left in the first half, they responded with authority. Kyric McGowan had a 39-yard kickoff return, and Thorson followed two straight completions with his untouched run into the end zone to take the lead for good.

“Our guys came in on Monday and were ready to go,” Thorson said.

Minnesota: With a freshman quarterback, limiting turnovers this season was bound to be one of the biggest challenges for the Gophers. They entered the week with a minus-6 margin that was the second-worst in the Big Ten.

“I’ve got to play better, 100 percent no question about it,” Morgan said.

UP NEXT
Northwestern: Hosts Illinois next Saturday. The Wildcats have won five out of the last six meetings.
Minnesota: Plays next Saturday at Wisconsin, where the Gophers have lost 11 straight times since 1994.

VOLLEYBALL
The No. 3 University of Minnesota volleyball program clinched the Big Ten Conference title outright tonight in Columbus, Ohio. The Golden Gophers (24-2, 18-0 in league action), won the match 23-25, 25-20, 25-13, 23-25, 15-11.

The 2018 championship marks the third conference championship for the Gophers in program history and the second since 2015. Minnesota clinched the title outright on the last game of the season in 2015, while the Gophers still have two matches remaining in the 2018 regular season schedule (Penn State and Rutgers next weekend).

With the win, the Gophers also punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. With no conference tournament in volleyball, the Big Ten regular season champion solidifies the league’s automatic bid.

Regan Pittman led the team with a career-high 20 kills while hitting .594, and also chipped in three aces. Stepahnie Samedy notched a double-double with 17 kills and a team-leading, and career-high, 21 digs. She also served up a career-high five aces. Alexis hart recorded 14 kills and was followed by Taylor Morgan who added 11 kills while hitting .500. Morgan had a team-best four blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson recorded a new season-high 58 assists. CC McGraw produced 18 digs and was followed by Adanna Rollins with 10.

The Gophers outhit Ohio State .315 to .207. As a team, Minnesota recorded 74 digs, 68 kills, and seven blocks. The Buckeyes had 80 digs, 64 kills and four blocks as a team.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Taylor Heise scored the game-winning goal 2:57 into overtime to lead the No. 2 University of Minnesota women’s hockey team to a 4-3 win over St. Cloud State in game one of this weekend’s WCHA series on the road at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Saturday afternoon.

Minnesota (10-2-1, 8-2-1-0 WCHA) received goals in regulation from Kelly Pannek, Abigail Boreen, and Sarah Potomak as the Golden Gophers came back from a 2-1 third-period deficit but needed overtime to put the game away. Pannek (1g-1a) and Emily Brown (2a) led the Gophers with multiple points, and Alex Gulstene made 15 saves in net for the Maroon & Gold.

Brooke Kudirka, Jenniina Nylund, and Hannah Potrykus scored goals for St. Cloud State (4-10-1, 2-7-0 WCHA), and the Huskies got 43 saves from goaltender Emma Polusny as Minnesota outshot the home team, 47-18.

Pannek gave the Gophers an early 1-0 lead when she scored a shorthanded goal just 2:32 into the contest. With Alex Woken in the penalty box for interference, Pannek got through on a breakaway. Her initial shot rang off the pipe, but she gained possession of the rebound and solved Polusny, netting Minnesota’s first short-handed goal of the season. The Gophers had a 17-7 advantage in shots on goal after the opening period and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The second period saw the Huskies tie the game at 1-1 on a goal by Kudirka when she stole the puck in the Minnesota end and fired an unassisted shot on target. The Gophers got their lone power play of the game in the middle frame but could not convert.

The teams combined for four third-period goals. The Huskies took a 2-1 lead at the 1:48 mark with a goal by Nylund, but Boreen tied the game at 2-2 when she scored her first collegiate goal midway through the period.

Potomak scored the go-ahead goal for Minnesota with 5:45 remaining, but the Huskies capitalized on a 6-on-4 advantage to tie the score at 3-3. With Brown in the box for the team’s second power play of the game, the Huskies pulled Polusny and Potrykus scored to send the game to overtime.

Heise then sealed the 4-3 win for the Gophers when she scored her fourth goal of the season with 2:03 remaining in the extra time. Minnesota outshot SCSU, 2-0, in overtime and possessed the puck in the Husky zone nearly the full 2:57 as the Maroon & Gold secured its 10th win of the season.

The Gophers and Huskies meet in game two of this weekend’s series at 2:07 p.m. CT Sunday at Ridder Arena.

MEN’S HOCKEY
MINNEAPOLIS – Rookie Nathan Burke’s first collegiate goal would have been enough on Saturday night, but the Maroon & Gold added two more including the freshman forward’s second of the year just to be sure as the No. 19 Gopher Hockey program picked up a 3-0 win over St. Lawrence at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Minnesota (3-5-1 overall, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) notched three even-strength goals from freshmen as Sammy Walker added a second insurance tally late in the third while Eric Schierhorn picked up his first win of the season and 12th career shutout in the series finale.

Schierhorn turned away all 12 shots he faced from the Saints to improve to 1-2-0 on the year and claim sole possession of third place on Minnesota’s all-time career shutouts list with 12. Only Kellen Briggs and Adam Wilcox have more all time for the Gophers, sharing the school record with 13 shutouts each. Emil Zetterquist took the loss for St. Lawrence, making 28 saves to fall to 1-1-0 on the year.

Burke’s opening goal came at 8:01 of the first period when the rookie forward tipped in a centering pass from Tyler Nanne. Blake McLaughlin started the tic-tac-toe strike for the second assist.

McLaughlin and Sammy Walker set up Burke’s second strike of the night – this time a dazzling spin-o-rama tally — when the all-freshmen line put the Gophers up by two at 7:43 of the second period.

Walker, who has now notched points in three-straight games for the Gophers, closed out the night with a breakaway tally for his second goal of the season at 16:31 of the third period. Tommy Novak set up the start of the play before Jack Sadek sprung Walker loose with a long pass down the middle of the ice.

Minnesota outshot St. Lawrence 31-12 on the night, the first time the Gophers have won when outshooting their opponents in four games this season. The Maroon & Gold have now outshot their foes in three-straight games. Both teams were unable to convert on the power play as Minnesota went 0-for-5 and St. Lawrence went 0-for-4.

The Gophers return to Big Ten action next weekend with a two-game series against Michigan State at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
MINNEAPOLIS — Trailing by seven through three quarters, No. 25 Minnesota (3-0) outscored San Diego (1-2) in the final stanza, 24-12, Saturday night to come away with a 53-48 victory at Williams Arena.

Leading the way for Minnesota were senior Kenisha Bell and junior Taiye Bello.

Bell scored a game-high 21 points, with 14 of them coming in the second half. She also had a season-high seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Bello notched her third double-double in as many games this season with 13 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. She did most of her damage in the pivotal fourth quarter, tallying eight points and 11 rebounds in the final frame.

The 18 rebounds were the most by a Gopher since Amanda Zahui B. had 22 against Depaul in the NCAA Tournament on March 20, 2015. In addition, Bello is the first Minnesota player to have three straight double-doubles since Zahui B. ended the 2014-15 season with four in a row.

When San Diego pulled ahead 15-13 in the second quarter, it was the first time Minnesota had trailed all season, ending Minnesota’s run at 93:09 with the lead.

The Toreros took a 21-17 lead into halftime, but the Golden Gophers managed to tie the game at 27-27 with 3:41 to go in the third on a steal and fastbreak layup from Bell. San Diego countered, however, with a quick 6-0 run and ended the third quarter with its biggest lead of the night at 36-29.

A 3-pointer from San Diego’s Leticia Soares made it 38-33 with 8:22 to go, but the Toreros would go scoreless over the next 4:54 as the Golden Gophers embarked on an 11-0 run.

Junior Jasmine Brunson scored on an old-fashioned three-point play, while Bell followed with a made free throw to cut the deficit to one. A layup from Bello with 6:12 to go put Minnesota ahead and gave it a lead it would not relinquish. Bello added another layup to extend the lead to 41-38 before Bell hit a jumper and made another free throw to give the Gophers a 44-38 cushion with 3:38 to play.

San Diego got as close as three points twice the rest of the way, but Minnesota was able to make enough of its free throws to maintain the lead and improve to 3-0 for the fourth straight season and fifth time in the last six years.

Minnesota continues its six-game homestand on Tuesday when it hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.

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