CHICAGO–(NU Athletics Mar. 8)–Keisei Tominaga’s 23 points led four Huskers in double figures, and Nebraska cut a double-digit deficit to one but could not complete the comeback in a 78-75 loss to Minnesota in the opening round of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Tominaga hit 8-of-14 shots from the field en route to his ninth 20-point game, and the junior nearly sent the game to overtime as his halfcourt shot was just off the mark.
Sam Griesel added 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Derrick Walker and Jamarques Lawrence chipped in 12 points apiece for the Huskers, who fell to 16-16 on the season.
Trailing 52-42 with just over 15 minutes remaining, Griesel and Walker combined for six straight points to cut the lead to Gopher lead to four, but Minnesota kept the Huskers at bay. NU pulled to within 60-57 after a pair of Griesel free throws, and NU would stay within two possessions the rest of the way,
Nebraska closed to within 63-62 after a Griesel basket with just over six minutes remaining, but Braeden Carrington’s 3-pointer stretched the margin to four.
Minnesota had just one field goal in the final five minutes – a Dawson Garcia jumper with 3:55 left – while scoring their final 10 points at the line. On the night, Minnesota went 14-20 from the foul line after shooting 61.5 percent from the line during the regular season.
Garcia ked four Gophers in double figures with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Ta’lon Cooper (16), Jaden Henley (14) and Jamison Battle (13) all reached double figures, as Minnesota shot 52 percent from the floor and hit 10 3-pointers.
NU was within one twice in the final 20 seconds, the last coming after a pair of Griesel free throws with 12.7 seconds left.
Ta’lon Cooer, who had 16 points and 12 assists, was fouled and made the first and missed the second. Griesel got the rebound and went coast-to-coast, but lost the ball on the drive, giving Minnesota the ball with 1.3 seconds left. NU fouled Jaden Henley, who missed the first shot and made the second to give UM a two-point lead, to five NU one final chance to send the game to OT.
The Huskers got off to a strong start, jumping to an 8-0 lead following Lawrence’s 4-point play in the opening 3:21. Minnesota, which missed its first five shots, found the range from the floor, hitting 12-of-14 shots at one point and finished the half shooting 57 percent from the field.
Nebraska led 13-9 before Minnesota seized the momentum with a 17-6 spurt to take a 26-19 lead. The Gophers built their larges lead of the half at 34-25 after a Garcia basket, but Nebraska outscored Minnesota 8-3 in the final two minutes to pull within 37-33 at the break.