MEN’S BASKETBALL
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After a sluggish start, Jordan Murphy cleared his head and put his team on his back, and Minnesota narrowly avoided a second straight bad loss.

Murphy scored 19 points and tied a career high with 21 rebounds as the Gophers rallied past Penn State 65-64 on Saturday night.

Amir Coffey and Eric Curry each scored 11 points and Dupree McBrayer’s free throw with 2.7 seconds left provided the winning margin for the Gophers (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten), who escaped a repeat of Wednesday night when they lost by 27 at previously winless Illinois.

Lamar Stevens scored 27 points, while Mike Watkins added 10 points and nine boards for the Nittany Lions (7-12, 0-8), who lost for the second straight game after leading at halftime.

Murphy was held to four points and four rebounds in the first half as Penn State took a 38-30 lead at the break. A conversation with coach Richard Pitino helped him regain focus and led to a huge second half for the senior forward.

 

Minnesota trailed by 11 early in the second half, but began its comeback with an 18-5 run that included four straight missed free throws by Penn State. When Coffey hit three straight free throws, the Gophers had their largest lead of the game at 61-54 with 5:43 to play.

But Stevens scored on a putback that started a 7-0 run for the Nittany Lions to tie the score and set up a see-saw finish that came down to the last shot.

Stevens had a chance to put Penn State on top but he missed a pair of free throws with 2:40 to play. Minnesota then regained the lead when Murphy went 1-for-2 from the line on the other end.

Murphy pushed the Gophers’ lead to 64-61 when he dunked home his own missed shot with a minute to play. But Stevens tied the game with 11.1 seconds left when he converted a three-point play after drawing a foul on Murphy and scoring down low.

On the Gophers’ final possession, McBrayer drove to the hoop and drew a foul with 2.7 seconds to play. He hit the second of two shots to give Minnesota the lead, and Stevens missed an 18-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Gophers the victory and Penn State another frustrating loss.

The Gophers hit 17 of 21 free throws in the second half while the Nittany Lions went 9 for 16.

Stevens scored 17 points in the first half and the Nittany Lions shot 56 percent from the floor — including 5 for 8 on 3-pointers — en route to a 38-30 lead at the break.

But Minnesota held Penn State to 28 percent from the field in the second half as the Gophers recovered from their Illinois hangover just in time.

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: The Nittany Lions still haven’t won in the Big Ten but they’ve been excruciatingly close. On Wednesday against Iowa they led by five at halftime and were tied with two minutes to play but couldn’t hold on.

“I think we’re the best 0-8 team in the country, I really do,” Chambers said. “We’re in every, every game.”

Minnesota: The Gophers needed this one with a trip to Ann Arbor coming up and No. 2 Michigan coming off a loss at Wisconsin. Plus a second straight ugly loss against a non-contender could have been a disaster.

“We just said we’re gonna learn from it and grow from it,” Curry said of the Illinois loss. “I guess we showed that tonight.”

UP NEXT
Penn State: Hosts Rutgers on Saturday.
Minnesota: At Michigan on Tuesday.


MEN’S HOCKEY
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Gopher Hockey’s three-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night as the Maroon & Gold opened this weekend’s Big Ten series with a 5-3 loss to Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena.

The Gophers (9-9-4 overall, 6-4-3-0 Big Ten) picked up goals from Sammy Walker, Brannon McManus and Rem Pitlick while Mat Robson made 37 saves in net for Minnesota.

Walker opened the night’s scoring with his fifth of the year at 4:52 of the opening period when fellow freshmen Blake McLaughlin and Nathan Burke set up the center in front of the net. But Michigan State (8-12-3, 4-7-2-2) responded with four-straight goals including three power-play tallies to claim a lead the Spartans never relinquished. Mitchell Lewandowski found the net twice – once on the power play and once at even strength – while Patrick Khodorenko and Cody Milan each added a goal during a Michigan State advantage. The Spartans ended the night 3-for-4 on the power play.

The Maroon & Gold attempted a late rally midway through the third period with two goals. McManus scored for the third-straight game during a Minnesota power play at 12:45 that was set up by Brent Gates Jr. and Tyler Sheehy, and Pitlick scored on an unassisted breakaway at 15:37 after forcing a turnover. But Jerad Rosburg’s long-range, empty net goal in the final minute killed any chance of an overtime session. McManus’ power-play tally stood as Minnesota’s lone strike on the advantage despite six power plays.

The Gophers were outshot by Michigan State 42-38 with Robson making 37 saves on 41 shots to fall to 7-5-4 on the year. John Lethemon made 35 saves on 38 shots to pick up the win, moving to 6-7-0 on the season.

Minnesota closes out a four-game road trip on Sunday at Michigan State (4 p.m. CT, Big Ten Network) before starting a four-game home stand with a Border Battle series at 3M Arena at Mariucci.


WOMEN’S HOCKEY
MINNEAPOLIS — Nicole Schammel scored twice and Sydney Scobee made a career-high 37 saves to lead the No. 2 Golden Gopher women’s hockey team to a 3-1 win over top-ranked Wisconsin in front of a sold-out crowd at Ridder Arena on Saturday evening.

Minnesota (22-3-1, 12-3-1-0 WCHA) bounced back to earn a series split following a 2-1 loss in game one of the Border Battle series on Friday. Along with Schammel’s three-point game (2g-1a), the Gophers received two points each from Sophie Skarzynski (1g-1a) and Grace Zumwinkle (2a).

Scobee made 37 saves in her seventh win of the season as the Gophers were outshot for just the third time this season. Wisconsin (21-3-0, 11-3-0-0 WCHA) had a 38-25 advantage in shots on goal and received 22 saves from Kristen Campbell. Sophie Shirley scored the Badgers’ lone goal.

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission off Skarzynski’s third goal of the season. Schammel dropped a pass back to Skarzynski as she moved into the UW zone, and Skarzynski fired a shot from the top of the circle that beat Campbell with 4:16 remaining in the opening period. Zumwinkle picked up the second assist on the play.

The teams exchanged goals in the second period. Schammel extended Minnesota’s lead to two at the 12:38 mark of the middle frame with a wild goal that bounced off Campbell straight up the air and found its way into the net behind her on the way down. However, Shirley got one back for the visitors just 21 seconds later.

Minnesota entered the third period leading 2-1, and the Gophers improved to 19-0-0 when leading after two periods. Schammel scored her second of the game and ninth of the season off a cross-ice pass from Zumwinkle at the 6:08 mark of the third period to once again extend the Gophers’ lead, and the Maroon & Gold did not look back.

Two of the nation’s top special teams units collided in the Border Battle series with both teams’ penalty kills outdoing the opposition’s power plays. Minnesota was 0-for-4 on the power play but held the Badgers scoreless on five power play opportunities.

Minnesota travels to Columbus, Ohio, for its second series of the regular season with No. 5 Ohio State next week.

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