Men's basketball falls in overtime to Minnesota in Big Ten Tournament

CHICAGO – No. 7 seed Minnesota went on an 8-0 run at the end of regulation to force Thursday's second-round Big Ten Tournament game to overtime then pulled ahead on five made free throws for the 77-72 win. Forward Lamar Stevens was the game-high scorer with 24 points as he led four Nittany Lions in double figures.

"I'm really proud of my team," said Penn State men's basketball coach Patrick Chambers. "I'm disappointed it ended today. I felt like we were just starting to figure some things out. We were just getting better. February and March were a lot of fun for us, and we had to grow in November and December and January, one of the hardest schedules in the country. (I) couldn't be more proud of a group. Did I enjoy coaching them. I enjoyed coaching these guys when it was 0-10, 0-8, 0-5, it didn't matter. They showed up. They showed up. They gave great effort in practice, and then I think that's why you saw it flip for us and I think that's why you saw us play so well down the stretch."

Redshirt junior Mike Watkins had a conference season–best 14 points, going 7-10 from the floor, and shared Penn State high rebounding honors with sophomore guard Jamari Wheeler with seven. Wheeler scored a Big Ten career-best 13 points and dished off for four assists and had three steals. Senior guard Josh Reaves finished with 12 with five assists and picked up three steals.

Minnesota recovered from 36 percent field goal shooting in the first half to go 50 percent the rest of the game and into overtime. The Nittany Lions were 4-7 in the extra period, but their three turnovers in overtime were the difference as Minnesota turned them into five points. Penn State sent the Golden Gophers to the line 11 times in overtime and Minnesota was 24-31 from the charity stripe for the game.

The Nittany Lions built an eight-point lead, but Minnesota responded each time with second-chance opportunities as Daniel Otoru's layup cut the lead to six midway through the second half and then a Dupree McBrayer 3-pointer knocked it to only three, 51-48, about a minute later. Minnesota added another point on three free throw attempts after a foul on Gabe Kalscheur before a Wheeler layup and Stevens' 20th point of the night brought it back to six, 55-49.

Watkins and Stevens each added baskets, but Minnesota's scoring outpaced Penn State as Coffey scored four-straight points and then fed Jordan Murphy for a game-tying basket at 59 with 1:17 left to play in regulation. Stevens put the Nittany Lions up by two, but McBrayer answered on the other end to knot the game at 61. Shots by Stevens, with nine seconds left, and Coffey, with one tick remaining, did not fall.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Minnesota trimmed a 37-32 lead to three as Amir Coffey grabbed his own missed attempt and put it back up. A foul on Stevens granted another Minnesota second-chance opportunity brought the Gophers within two, 39-37, at the 16:52 mark.

After an 0-4 start from the field in the second half, the Nittany Lions found their footing. Going 7-8 over five minutes, Penn State held its six-point lead and then pushed it up to eight again, 51-43.

The Nittany Lions steadily built an eight-point lead in the first half, but back-to-back baskets by the Gophers, the second a 3-pointer by Brock Stull dropped the lead from eight to six to only three at the 8:54 mark.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half. Minnesota went without a field goal for five minutes and Penn State had a scoring drought of four minutes when the Gophers took their one-point lead, 26-25, with 4:34 left in the half.

Stevens scored nine-straight points with a trey, jumper and four free throws to help the Nittany Lions grab the lead back from the Golden Gophers, 30-26 with 2:40 left in the half. Stevens added another field goal and then Reaves ended the half with a dunk for a 34-30 Penn State advantage at the break.

Golden Gopher Coffey scored 22 points with a 10-11 mark from the free throw line while McBrayer had 11 of his 18 in the second half. Jordan Murphy had a double-double with 15 points and game-best 14 rebounds and Oturu finished with 10.

Last Updated March 15, 2019