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Gophers unable to hold off late Northwestern charge

Northwestern's Mike Capocci, right, grabs the ball away from Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe in the first half Wednesday night in Evanston, Ill. (Associated Press)

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Michael Thompson and sophomore reserve Alex Marcotullio scored 18 points apiece as Northwestern rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit for a 68-57 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night.

Marcotullio, who had a career night, scored 10 points over a 6-minute span in the second half for the Wildcats (17-12, 7-11 Big Ten), who trailed 41-31 with 13:14 to play.

Trevor Mbakwe picked up his 17th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Golden Gophers (17-12, 6-11), who lost their fourth in a row.

Thompson scored 15 second-half points. John Shurna had 15 for the game, while reserve Davide Curletti added 12.

Northwestern moved ahead of Minnesota into sole possession of eighth in the Big Ten.

The Golden Gophers led 31-25 at intermission and extended the lead to 39-29 on Austin Hollins' 3-pointer with 13:59 left.

The Wildcats chipped away over the next 6:40, using 3-pointers from Thompson, Marcotullio and Shurna to trim the deficit to 45-43.

They went ahead 46-45 on Marcotullio's fast-break layup and free throw with 6:48 to play and extended the advantage to 49-45 on Marcotullio's 3-pointer 44 seconds later.

The Wildcats pulled away in the final 3 minutes as Thompson hit his fourth 3-pointer for a 60-51 lead.

Northwestern wrapped up its regular season, while Minnesota hosts Penn State in its Big Ten finale Sunday.

Northwestern hit just 2 of 12 shots in the first 12:30 yet trailed just 13-10. The Wildcats then grabbed an 18-17 lead on Marcotullio's 3-pointer with 9:11 showing.

The Gophers went ahead at 20-18 on Blake Hoffarber's putback and and never trailed on the way to a 31-25 halftime lead. Mbakwe and Rodney Williams each had six first-half points.