(Photo courtesy of www.gophersports.com)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The shot wasn’t what Minnesota coach Richard Pitino wanted until Gabe Kalscheur’s heave swished through the net.
Then it became the perfect shot to keep the Gophers unbeaten.
“The way that he shot it I don’t know if I envisioned that. But he’s a great kid, he deserves success and sometimes you just have to get lucky. We haven’t been really lucky around here,” Pitino said.
Kalscheur made a contested 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left, lifting Minnesota to a 68-66 win over Washington in the final of the Vancouver Showcase on Wednesday.
Washington led 66-65 and had possession, but Jaylen Nowell was called for an offensive foul with 12.8 seconds left. Minnesota didn’t appear to have a good look as Kalscheur was guarded by Washington’s Noah Dickerson. But the freshman got enough space — perhaps with the help of an extra step — to get off the difficult shot that swished. It was just his second 3-pointer of the game.
Kalscheur looked to have shuffled his feet before putting up the shot.
“When it left his hand I said ‘He made it,'” Dickerson said. “I (saw) the look in his eyes.”
Nowell had a shot from about 35 feet at the buzzer that wasn’t close.
The final game of the inaugural event wasn’t pretty as both teams suffered from stretches of sloppy play and offensive inefficiency. But it got the exciting conclusion it hoped thanks to Minnesota’s late rally.
Jordan Murphy led Minnesota (5-0) with 18 points — all in the second half — and 11 rebounds. Alex Coffey added 17 points and Kalscheur finished with nine points, including the three biggest.
“That was insane. That was something you would typically see in March Madness or something,” Murphy said.
Dickerson matched his career high with 28 points for Washington (4-2) and Nowell added 22, but the Huskies were outscored 14-7 over the final six minutes and continued to struggle with finding a third scorer. David Crisp had eight points but no one else scored more than two.
“The ball stopped. We didn’t get a lot of flow, didn’t get a lot of movement,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said of the offensive issues late. “They were killing us inside and then they were just beating us down court later in the game. We still had the one-point lead. … We’ve got to learn from it and move forward.”
Kalscheur, who scored 18 of 25 points in the first half versus Santa Clara, was scoreless until hitting a corner 3-pointer with 7:37 left to pull the Gophers within 54-52. Every time Washington was on the verge of pulling away, Minnesota had a mini spurt to stay close. Washington wasn’t able to build its lead to more than five after as the teams matched shot for shot, interspersed with some sloppy possessions.
Washington still led 63-58 with 3:23 left but Kalscheur was fouled shooting a 3 and hit all three. The Gophers pulled even on Coffey’s driving layup and after a Washington miss, Murphy put the Gophers up 65-63 with two minutes left.
Nowell answered with a tough driving basket and Crisp split free throws for a 66-65 lead. Minnesota had several chances on its next possession but ended up turning the ball over with 38 seconds left. Washington answered with its own turnover as Nowell was called for a charge as Coffey played excellent defense to draw the foul that set up Kalscheur’s winning shot.
“We had a chance to not put ourselves in that position and that’s the frustrating part,” Hopkins said
Playing for the third time in four days, both teams showed signs of fatigue during a lethargic first half. It was an exceptionally tough turnaround for Washington whose win over Texas A&M finished after 10:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday night and was back on the court less than 17 hours later.
Minnesota: After seeing Kalscheur hit six 3-pointers in the first half a day earlier, all of the Gophers struggled from deep early against Washington. The Gophers were 1 of 6 on 3s in the first 20 minutes and 4 of 12 for the game. … Minnesota shot 26 percent and was 7 of 15 on free-throws in the first half. The Gophers finished at 38 percent shooting and were 22 of 33 at the line.
Washington: The 20 points by Minnesota in the first half were the fewest allowed by Washington since giving up 15 against Oregon State in January 2015. … The Huskies missed all seven 3-point attempts in the first half. Their first 3 came with 18:32 left on Nowell’s corner 3. … Dickerson posted consecutive 20-point games for the third time in his career.
Minnesota: The Gophers are at Boston College next Monday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Washington: The Huskies get a break before hosting Eastern Washington on Tuesday.