MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Gophers struggled to make shots down the stretch, but they made enough free throws to hold on for a 95-89 victory over the 20th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes on Tuesday at Williams Arena.
The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Gophers (18-11 overall, 7-9 in the Big Ten), and handed the Hawkeyes (19-8, 8-6), their first two-game losing streak in conference play.
And it came despite the fact that Iowa held Minnesota without a field goal for the final 8:30 of the second half. The Gophers did, however, hit on 16 of 18 free throws in the final 3:03 of play to seal the win.
Gophers guard Austin Hollins scored a career-high 27 points. Guard DeAndre Mathieu had 19 and guard Andre Hollins had 14. Little-used forward Charles Buggs had 13 off the bench for Minnesota, which shot 30-for-49 overall and 11-for-19 on 3-pointers.
Iowa got 24 points from Roy Devyn Marble, 21 from forward Aaron Wright, 16 from guard forward Josh Oglesby and 13 from guard Mike Gesell.
Iowa trimmed Minnesota’s nine-point lead to two on Anthony Clemmons fast-break layup.
But Buggs’ fast-break hoop, followed by three free throws by Austin Hollins, began a run that gave the Gophers their biggest lead of the night, 80-67, on Andre Hollins’ 3-pointer with 8:30 left.
Then the Gophers went cold. Over the next five-plus minutes, Iowa scored nine straight points to pull within 80-76 on White’s three-pointer with 4:04 left.
But Minnesota was saved by its successful free-throw shooting. Mathieu hit two free throws with 3:03 left to put Minnesota up six, and Marble hit 1 of 2 with 2:20 left.
With 1:30 left, Marble tipped in a Hawkeyes’ miss, was fouled and made the free throw to pull Iowa within two.
Twenty seconds later, Mathieu hit two free throws, pushing the lead to four. Oglesby missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and Andre Hollins hit one of two free throws with 53.3 left.
Gesell scored for Iowa with 46.8 left.
But then forward Maurice Walker hit the first four of eight straight makes by the Gophers to seal the win.
An electric, back-and-forth first half featured Marble, who scored 19 points for Iowa, and Austin Hollins, who was perfect from the field while scoring 15 for the Gophers. Marble had four of Iowa’s five first-half 3-pointers, while Hollins his four of his team’s nine treys — on just 11 attempts.
The Hawkeyes, at different points in the half, had runs of 10-0 and 13-2 while building a 32-21 lead
But the Gophers matched each with a run of their own. The most significant was a 30-9 run led by Charles Buggs and Austin Hollins. The Gophers rallied to a 40-39 lead on Andre Hollins’ three-pointer with 3:36 left in the half. After White hit two free throws for Iowa, Buggs and Austin Hollins hit three-pointers in an 11-0 run that made it 51-41 with 55.6 seconds left.
But Marble answered, scoring the final six points of the half — on a three-point play and a 3-pointer — to make it a four-point game entering the second half.
NOTES: Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has told his players to stay away from Twitter. This edict comes in the wake of senior Zach McCabe having traded barbs with critics on the social media website after Iowa’s loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. Wanting his players to focus on the team’s stretch run, McCaffery has asked his players to shut down their Twitter accounts until after the season. … Tuesday’s game was the second of three straight against ranked opponents; the Gophers play at No. 16 Michigan on Saturday. … Iowa has only one more conference game against a ranked opponent before the Big Ten Tournament. … Iowa is one of only three teams — Villanova and Wichita State are the others — in the official NCAA RPI top 30 not to have lost to a team outside the RPI top 20. … Entering the game the Gophers had lost eight of 11 games after a 13-3 start.
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