No. 14 Minnesota pulls away from Niagara
Withstanding a hot start by Niagara and then the Purple Eagles' run that pulled them within a bucket with less than nine minutes left, No. 14 Minnesota used balanced scoring to win its third game in six nights.
Amir Coffey scored 18 points to lead all five starters in double figures on Wednesday night as the Golden Gophers notched a 107-81 decision at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Reggie Lynch supplied a 18-point, 13-rebound double-double and also rejected nine shots for Minnesota.
Nate Mason also stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Jordan Murphy scored 16 of his 18 points after halftime and Dupree McBrayer chipped in 13.
Niagara (1-1) received a game-high 26 points from point guard Kahlil Dukes, who sank 5 of 10 3-point attempts. Matt Scott and Marvin Prochet each delivered double-doubles, Scott finishing with 17 points and 11 boards and Prochet contributed 10 and 12.
The Purple Eagles, playing their first game against a ranked team in five years, were up for the challenge most of the night. They established a 22-13 advantage at the second media timeout and pushed the lead to 10 on a 3-pointer by Prochet with 11:46 left in the opening half.
The Golden Gophers took the lead for good with a 12-2 run that closed the first half, giving them a 48-38 cushion at halftime.
A Murphy tip-in with 14:35 remaining in the game widened the advantage to 65-48, but Niagara stormed back with an 18-3 run, drawing within 68-66 on James Towns' 12-footer with 8:43 left.
However, Minnesota needed just 3:05 to end the game's competitive phase, rattling off 17 straight points. By the time Michael Hurt sank a free throw to wrap up the spurt, the lead was back to 19 and the Golden Gophers were home free.
NOTES: Minnesota F Jordan Murphy was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 35 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in Friday night's 92-77 win over USC Upstate. ... The 14th-ranked Golden Gophers are the highest-ranked opponent Niagara has played since 2007, when it absorbed a 107-67 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against No. 2 Kansas. ... Minnesota senior G Nate Mason is on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard.