Minnesota Hangs On To Beat Northwestern

With Minnesota on the bubble of making the dance, this was a big game in order to keep their hopes alive and the Gophers took care of business as they defeated Northwestern 54-48

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Deandre Mathieu scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and Minnesota came back to defeat cold-shooting Northwestern 54-48 on Sunday.

Maurice Walker and Andre Hollins each had eight points for the Gophers (17-9, 6-7 Big Ten), who won for just the second time in six games. Minnesota also avenged a 55-54 loss to Northwestern at Minneapolis on Feb. 1 and ended a five-game losing streak at Evanston dating to February 2008.

The Wildcats (12-14, 5-8) got the tight defensive game they wanted, but lost their third straight as they went just 7 for 28 from the floor in the second half and missed nine straight field goal attempts until Tre Demps dumped in a layup with 10 seconds left. Northwestern's Jershon Cobb scored on 5 of 7 3-point attempts and led Northwestern with a season-high 23 points. Alex Olah added 10.

Northwestern leading scorer, Drew Crawford, had 11 rebounds but was held to just two points on 1-for-15 shooting. He didn't connect until his ninth shot at 4:54 into the second half.

For the game, Northwestern shot only 30.2 percent while Minnesota shot 46.3 percent.

Andre Hollins nailed a 3-pointer from the left side 2:16 into the second half to put Minnesota ahead 32-31 and set up a tight, back-and-forth period. Neither team led by more than three points through the first 16 minutes of a scrappy second frame.

Minnesota pulled ahead 49-44 when Austin Hollins hit a 3-pointer with 3:09 left. Neither team scored again until a free throw by Minnesota's Malik Smith with 27 seconds left made it 50-44.

A pair of free throws by Northwestern's Kale Abrahamson with 15 seconds left cut it to 50-46 and gave the Wildcats a glimmer of hope. But Mathieu hit two shots from the line a second later to ice it.

The Wildcats scored on just two of their first 11 shots from the floor, but set the tone for most of the first half with a deliberate half-court attack and tight defensive play that led to 10 Minnesota turnovers.

Northwestern used a 9-2 spurt midway through the period to take the lead and moved ahead by as many as seven, but settled for 28-25 halftime advantage when Mathieu swished in a 3-point shot with 3 seconds left.

Northwestern opened its biggest lead of the half, 26-19 when Cobb connected on the third of his 3-pointers. He led the Wildcats with 13 points in the period, going 3 for 4 from beyond the arc and 4 for 6 overall from the floor.

Northwestern's Alex Olah tied it 44-all on a free throw with 7:10 left to complete a three-point play. Minnesota went ahead for good at 45-44 on Walker's free throw less than a minute later.

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