Men's basketball: Minnesota escapes Iowa with a win
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota got into another game that was more about poise and hustle than shooting and passing.
This time, the Gophers pulled out a victory.
Austin Hollins hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left, lifting No. 23 Minnesota to a 62-59 win over Iowa on Sunday afternoon.
“We showed a lot of heart toward the end of the game,” Hollins said.
He finished with 17 points to help the Gophers (17-5, 5-4 Big Ten) survive the scrappy Hawkeyes (14-8, 3-6) and escape with an important win.
Minnesota scored the last seven points of the game, and Iowa turned the ball over on the last two possessions before Mike Gesell’s tying attempt rolled off the front rim at the buzzer. Joe Coleman, who had 12 points, started the run by making a layup to cut the deficit to 59-57 with 1:45 left.
Then the 6-foot-4 Hollins came off a double screen at the top of the key to get open in the corner on an inbounds play, and he made the shot over the 6-foot-1 Gesell.
“I saw some daylight, so I let it go,” said Hollins, who then hounded Gesell in the corner on the other end to get the ball back.
“They stripped me,” Gesell said. “My first instinct was to dive on it and call timeout. I ended up sliding out of bounds.”
Andre Hollins, who had 15 points, made two free throws to stretch the lead to three. Gesell said he thought his 3-pointer was good.
“I shot it with confidence,” Gesell said. “But that’s how it goes sometimes.”
The Gophers lost similar games last week at Northwestern and Wisconsin when points were at a premium and open looks at the basket were hard to come by. But with a big play at each end in the closing seconds by Austin Hollins and a boost from the home crowd, they emerged with a much different feeling this time.
“His execution at the end of the game was perfect,” Andre Hollins said. “That’s what we need to do throughout the entire season.”
Gesell finished with 11 points, and Aaron White and Zach McCabe each had 10 for the Hawkeyes. Junior Roy Devyn Marble went scoreless for the first time since his freshman year. Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffrey was seething after the late collapse, including the clean shot Hollins was able to launch.
“We’ve got to get up in his space,” McCaffrey said. “That’s disappointing. You can’t give him three there.”
The Gophers surged ahead 14-2 behind their full-court press, but Josh Oglesby and McCabe came in off the bench to help the Hawkeyes begin to crack the pressure by finding and making open shots on the wing. McCabe hit consecutive 3-pointers in a 31-second span to bring the Hawkeyes with 19-18, and the game was tight the rest of the way.
“Our guys showed a lot of heart, a lot of toughness and a lot of character,” Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said.
The Gophers tweaked their half-court offense, using more high-low passing and baseline and backdoor cuts to create some openings for high-percentage shots. But the long-armed Hawkeyes made them work for every basket underneath, often preventing them with hard fouls in the paint.
Neither team led by more than four points in the second half. Iowa went up 54-50 with 5:13 remaining when White — coming off a career-high 27 points Thursday in a win over Penn State — soared into the lane over Trevor Mbakwe for a three-point play.
The Hawkeyes later had a chance to build on a 56-53 lead with a fast break but missed three shots inside. Instead, the Gophers grabbed the ball and Rodney Williams got free for an uncontested dunk with 2:39 left that brought Minnesota back within one.
“We had one foot in the grave, but we were able to dig our way out of it,” Smith said.
“They don’t really panic,” he added. “Even when we threw the ball out of bounds, we just talked about, ‘Fellas, we’re going to win the game. Let’s be patient. Let’s get a stop. Let’s do it at the defensive end.’”