FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2019 file photo, Gable Steveson warms up before wrestling in an NCAA Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis, Minn. A prosecutor says two University of Minnesota wrestlers who were arrested in an alleged sexual assault will not face criminal charges. Gable Steveson and Dylan Martinez were arrested in June on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct after someone reported a rape. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, that there is inadequate evidence to charge the men. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP File)

WRESTLING
PISCATAWAY, N.J – Heavyweight Gable Steveson took home his first career Big Ten Championship as the Gophers closed out the 2020 Big Ten Championships in eighth place with 63.5 team points.

Steveson’s conference title is the Gophers first since 133-pound Chris Dardanes won in 2015. Among heavyweights, the drought dates back to Tony Nelson in 2014.

Steveson improves to 15-0 this season and 50-2 in his young career. Of all Gopher wrestlers with at least 50 career victories, Steveson has the best winning percentage (.962) with Larry Zilverberg and Brock Lesar tied in second place (0.948).

Including Steveson, the Gophers placed five on the podium.

Devin Skatzka earned the fifth-spot on the podium with an 8-3 decision over Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola, his third straight decision over Labriola in less than a month. The two foes have met nine times now with Skatzka owning the series lead with five hand-raises.

At 149-pounds Brayton Lee finished fourth in his first varsity season after dropping a 3-0 decision to Colin Purinton in his final bout. Lee won three matches on the weekend as he outscored his opponents 29-15.

Mitch McKee placed sixth at 141-pounds after medically forfeiting his bouts on Sunday while Hunter Ritter took home eighth place

The Gophers will close out the season right across the river at US Bank Stadium with the NCAA Championships lasting from March 19-21. The event is expected to demolish previous NCAA wrestling attendance records and will house an improved student-athlete experience featuring more practice and personal space.


MEN’S HOCKEY
MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 19 Gopher Hockey program punched its ticket to the 2020 Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament semifinals with a 3-2 win over Notre Dame on Sunday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Minnesota rallied with two-straight wins in the best-of-three series to set up a single-game semifinal matchup at Penn State next Saturday.

Minnesota (16-14-7) also rallied from a one-goal deficit in the deciding contest with three-straight goals in the second period. After a scoreless first period, Notre Dame (15-15-7) struck first with a goal from Alex Steeves at 5:25 of the second period. But the Maroon & Gold answered quickly with a power-play goal from Ben Meyers at 10:18 and then claimed the lead 44 seconds later when Sampo Ranta scored his 12th of the year at 11:06. Blake McLaughlin and Robbie Stucker set up the equalizer while Scott Reedy and Brannon McManus picked up assists on Minnesota’s second goal.

Meyers found the net for the second time in the game with another power-play goal at 16:03 of the second period – this tally standing as the eventual game winner. Sammy Walker and Reedy pocketed assists on the deciding tally as Meyers notched his first career multi-goal game. The Gophers finished the night 2-for-3 on the power play, finding the back of the net twice in a game for the first time Dec. 6, 2019 – a span of 19 games for the Maroon & Gold.

The Irish made a game of it with a power-play goal from Cam Morrison at 10:36 of the third period, but the Gophers shut the door the rest of the way to advance to the Big Ten semifinals for the second year in a row.

Jack LaFontaine improved to 9-9-6 on the year with a 23-save performance in goal for Minnesota while the junior has now allowed two goals or less in five-straight games. Cale Morris fell to 12-14-7 after making 18 saves for the Irish.

Minnesota was outshot 25-21 on the night but held the Irish to just 11 shots in the first 40 minutes of play.

Up Next: Big Ten Semifinal at Penn State


WOMEN’S HOCKEY
MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 4 seed Golden Gopher women’s hockey team will face WCHA Final Faceoff champion Ohio State in the NCAA quarterfinal round as the NCAA unveiled the eight-team bracket for the 2020 National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Championship on Sunday evening.

Minnesota and Ohio State will face off at 4 p.m. CT Saturday at Ridder Arena in a rematch of the WCHA semifinal, which the Buckeyes won 4-3 in overtime.

Tickets are on sale to Gopher women’s hockey season ticket-holders now and will be available to the public at 2 p.m. CT Monday. A pre-sale for Gopher Score members runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT Monday as well. Tickets are $10 for reserved chairback, $8 for general admission, and $5 for students and standing room only (if necessary).

After falling to the Buckeyes in the semifinal round of the WCHA postseason tournament, Minnesota is making its 13th-straight and 18th overall appearance in the NCAA postseason. The 2020 WCHA regular-season runner-up Gophers have won seven national championships, and Minnesota has only missed the NCAA tournament twice in its 20-year history.

Mercyhurst (CHA), Princeton (ECAC Hockey), Northeastern (Hockey East), and Ohio State (WCHA) earned the four automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments while Minnesota, Cornell, Wisconsin, and Clarkson earned at-large bids.

2020 NCAA Quarterfinal Match-Ups
No. 1 seed Cornell (28-2-3) hosts Mercyhurst (21-10-5)
No. 2 seed Wisconsin (28-5-3) hosts Clarkson (25-6-6)
No. 3 seed Northeastern (32-4-2) hosts Princeton (26-6-1)
No. 4 seed Minnesota (27-6-3) hosts Ohio State (24-8-6)


MEN’S BASKETBALL
MINNEAPOLIS — Gabe Kalscheur and his teammates had a record-setting day as the Minnesota Gophers wrapped up their regular season with a big win.

Kalscheur scored 26 points and tied a school record with eight 3-pointers on Sunday as Minnesota set a season-high in scoring with a 107-75 victory over Nebraska.

Minnesota made a school-record 18 3-pointers, thanks in large part to Kalscheur, who went 7 for 8 from beyond the arc in the second half.

“My confidence was high and my teammates found me,” said Kalscheur, who was expected to be one of Minnesota’s top scorers this season but entered Sunday shooting 26.2% from 3-point range in conference games. “The connection with the rim — it felt like every shot was going in there in the second half.”

Marcus Carr had 18 points and 11 assists, Alihan Demir added 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Daniel Oturu had 10 points and six rebounds for the Gophers (14-16, 8-12 Big Ten), who were eighth in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting before lighting up the Huskers.

“I’ve said all along, I thought we were a great shooting team,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “They waited to the last game, apparently, to prove me right.”

Haanif Cheatham led Nebraska (7-24, 2-18) with 17 points. Jervay Green added 16, Thorir Thorbjarnarson had 14, and Kevin Cross scored 10 for the Huskers, who have lost 16 straight games and will be the bottom seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament.

“The beauty of this postseason right now is whatever happened during the regular season, it’s over,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’re all zero and zero. It’s a fun time of year to get to this point and hopefully go out and play well.”

The Gophers have to win at least three games at the Big Ten Tournament to ensure a .500 record required for NIT eligibility.

That means the game was likely the final one at home for Oturu. The 6-foot-10 sophomore and Twin Cities native is expected to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft, where some services have him ranked as a top-10 pick. He’s averaging 20.3 points and leads the Big Ten with 11.6 rebounds per game.

Oturu put his skills on display during a 14-2 run late in the first half that helped Minnesota build a 52-37 lead at the break. After hitting a pair of free throws, he threw down a dunk on a breakaway and then hit a long jump shot for six straight points.

The Gophers hit 10 of their last 14 shots of the first half as they pulled away from Nebraska. Demir hit three straight buckets from inside to start the second half.

BOARD WORK

Oturu’s Big Ten rebounding title makes it three straight years that a Minnesota player has been the conference’s top rebounder. Former Gophers forward Jordan Murphy led the Big Ten in each of the previous two seasons.

TAKING CARE

Nebraska turned the ball over 42 times in their previous two games, but the Huskers took much better care of the ball on Sunday. They had just three turnovers in the first half and 11 total.

EMPTY THE BENCH

All 13 players who dressed for Minnesota played and scored on Senior Day. The Gophers went over 100 points on a dunk by freshman big man Sam Freeman, just his second basket of the season. And senior guard Brady Rudrud nailed a 3-pointer, his first since his freshman year.

RECORD TALK

Pitino put Kalscheur back into the game with 7:38 to play when an assistant pointed out that the sophomore guard was one 3-pointer shy of tying the single-game school record. Kalscheur hit his next shot from beyond the arc and promptly returned to the bench with the game in hand.

When asked if he considered letting Kalscheur try to break the mark, Pitino cited sportsmanship and injury concerns for keeping him on the bench.

“He tied the record. That’s pretty good, right?,” Pitino said with a grin. “I mean, let’s not get greedy.”

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The Huskers played without guards Cam Mack and Dachon Burke, who coach Fred Hoiberg suspended indefinitely on Saturday for violating team rules. The two guards combined for 24.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this year, while Mack led the team with 6.4 assists per game.

Minnesota: The Gophers had lost three straight home games, giving away big leads down the stretch in each of them. They made sure that didn’t happen again, thanks in large part to their long-distance shooting. Minnesota topped 100 points for the first time since Nov. 6, 2018.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: The 14th-seeded Cornhuskers will face No. 11 Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday night in Indianapolis. Nebraska lost both games to Indiana this season, including a six-point overtime defeat on the road on Dec. 13. “It seems like 20 years ago, but it was our first game of the conference season back in December and we played great,” Hoiberg said. “We had a chance to win that game. We took them to overtime, but they have great length and it’s a team that’s athletic. We have to do a good job on the glass.”

Minnesota: Seeded 12th in the Big Ten tourney, the Gophers will take on 13th-seeded Northwestern in the first game on Wednesday evening. Minnesota swept a pair of games against the Wildcats this season, winning by an average of 17.5 points.


BASEBALL
MINNEAPOLIS – The Gopher Baseball team came up short in a back-and-forth rubber match against Utah on Sunday afternoon, 17-11.

In a game that featured four lead changes, the Utes were the first to put a number in the scoring column. Utah scored one run in the first inning on a double steal of second base and home. The score became 2-0 on an RBI single to right-center in the second.

The Utah lead would prove to be short-lived, however, as the Gophers came roaring back in the bottom half of the second. Sam Ireland put Minnesota on the board with an RBI double down the left field line that plated Easton Bertrand to begin the scoring.

In a unique moment at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the Maroon & Gold knotted the game at two runs apiece as Drew Stahl singled in Ireland with a clutch two-out knock to center field. Ireland and Stahl competed together at Mountain Vista High School (Colo.) and won a state championship together in 2018.

With the game tied, Otto Grimm stepped to the plate and delivered a go-ahead single to left, bringing Stahl in to score.

It would not take long for the Utes to turn around and erase the Gopher lead in a similar fashion. Utah plated two runs in the third on an RBI single and bases loaded walk to regain the lead, 4-3. Minnesota starter Drake Davis was knocked out of the contest in the inning, pitching 2 2/3 innings with four runs on seven hits, three walks and tying his career high with six strikeouts.

As the game progressed, it became evident the rubber match would be a back-and-forth affair. In the bottom half of the third, Minnesota loaded the bases on an Andrew Wilhite hit-by-pitch and a pair of bunt singles from Zack Raabe and Jack Wassel. Already with a double in the contest, Bertrand delivered a big two-run single to left field to give the Gophers the lead back, 5-4.

In the fourth, Utah tied the game with a double before taking the lead in the fifth. The Utes’ four-run fifth inning gave them a 9-5 advantage, signifying the fourth and final lead change of the day. Utah would go on to add three more runs in the sixth to extend their lead to seven.

With the U trailing 12-5, Grimm crushed a 1-0 Utah offering in the sixth off the batter’s eye in straightaway center field for the first home run of his college career. Minnesota would go on to plate a seventh run on a wild pitch with two outs.

The Gophers’ comeback attempt stalled at that point, as the Utes added four more runs in the seventh and ultimately went on to win the game, 17-11. Minnesota reliever Nolan Burchill was saddled with the loss after throwing 1 1/3 innings with three runs allowed on four hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

Utah reliever Josh Giffins earned the win, tossing 3 2/3 innings and surrendering two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out five batters.


SOFTBALL
The No. 18/19 University of Minnesota Gophers battled No. 22/22 UCF to a tie this afternoon. The game was being played under a drop dead time due to the Gophers travel schedule. The game started over a half hour later than originally scheduled and went into extra innings to force the tie.

UCF took advantage of two early Minnesota errors in the top of the first to plate a pair of runs. Minnesota cut into the lead in the bottom of the first. MaKenna Partain walked to lead off the frame. She moved over on an Ellee Jensen sacrifice bunt and scored on a Natalie DenHartog double down the left field line.

The fielding struggles continued for the Gophers in the second inning. UCF was able to notch another two runs aided by a pair of Minnesota errors.

Kianna Jones cut right into the lead in the bottom of the second. She took her second home run of the season the opposite way to make it 4-2 after two.

The Gophers kept chipping away in the bottom of the third. Ellee Jensen placed a single to shallow center and scored all the way from first on a hard DenHartog liner into the right center gap.

Jones ripped a single through the right side in the fourth. She took a trip around the bases on a grounder, a wild pitch and a Brooke Vander Heide RBI-double to center to tie up the game.

The Gophers loaded the bases in the fifth inning and plated a close run at home as Jensen slid safely in on a Katelyn Kemmetmueler sacrifice fly to left.

Minnesota held the lead until the top of the seventh inning. They sent a two out single up the middle to bring in the game tying run.

The Gophers were sent down in order in the bottom of the seventh, but kept UCF off the board in the top of the eighth. Under international tiebreak rules, Kemmetmueller started the bottom of the eighth on second and moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Vander Heide reached on a hit by pitch and moved to second but both runners were left there.

The ninth inning moved into the bottom part of the frame, but did not count with the game being called for drop dead time.

Amber Fiser got the start and went five innings with seven strikeouts. Just two of UCF’s four runs were earned against Fiser. Autumn Pease pitched three innings. She allowed just one run and had one strikeout.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here