The Gophers once again let a second half lead slip away, this time at home to the Maryland Terrapins who used 11 three pointers to sink the Gophers 85-78. The loss was Minnesota’s fifth in a row and dropped them to 15-7 on the season and 3-6 in the conference.
The Terps had no answer for the Gophers in the first half on either end of the court, with Coffey raining threes, Lynch having a block party, and Springs taking it hard to the hoop. Minnesota actually had a calculated, competent half court set when the situation called for it, but also did a lot of damage off Maryland turnovers. The Terps, meanwhile, kept themselves in the game with three Justin Jackson three pointers.
The Gophers came out swinging again in the second and built a nine-point lead before the Terrapin deep ball kicked in. The Terrapins ran circles around the Gophers in the second half with a combination of Melo Trimble pick and rolls, dribble drives and kick-out threes. For the game Maryland was an incredible 11-18 from deep.
Minnesota swung back but couldn’t overcome mistakes down the stretch. Akeem Springs had a career high 23 points but was silent down the stretch, while Amir Coffey was held scoreless in the second after a strong first half.
The loss speaks to what is now a concerning trend of the Gophers not being able to close out games, especially at home. Maryland was supremely vulnerable, but Minnesota shot themselves in the foot too often on defense. Freshman forward Justin Jackson was unstoppable, scoring 28 points while going 5-5 from deep.
The margin for error for the Gophers has now almost entirely evaporated, meaning they need to beat the teams they’re favored over the rest of the way if they want to be considered for the NCAA Tournament. The sky hasn’t fallen, but it’s starting to crack.
- Reggie Lynch was well behaved in the first half, accruing only one foul, but nabbed four in the second half to foul out with a few minutes to go. Not sure what needs to happen to clean up the fouling, but at this point in the season it’s almost an expectation that he’ll foul out.
- Akeem Springs continues to be the best player on the court for the Gophers, and he was borderline unstoppable today. Unfortunately, they went away from him down the stretch in favor of Jordan Murphy.
- And speaking of Murphy, he’s turned into the weak link on the court. He looks lost half the time and out of position. He made what was probably the most critical error of the game by driving the lane with the team down by 2. It’s a terrible decision for a team that had so many other options, like Nate Mason, who was doing a great job drawing fouls.