Men’s basketball: Gophers falter at free throw line in 71-67 loss to Badgers

The Gophers have been one of the worst teams in the nation from the stripe this season and made 58% Sunday.


MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team has saved its best for last, but the Wisconsin Badgers continue to be a bugaboo.

After a depressing 12-game losing streak ended with a win over Rutgers on Thursday, Minnesota pushed Wisconsin on Senior Night but fell 71-67 on Sunday at Williams Arena.

The Gophers (8-21, 2-17 Big Ten) have lost so. straight games to Wisconsin since February 2020. Head coach Ben Johnson’s four losses to Wisconsin have come by 14 total points, including a 63-60 defeat on Jan. 3.

The real bogeyman for Minnesota was free-throw shooting. The Gophers have been one of the worst teams in the nation from the stripe this season and made 58% Sunday. In the final 10 seconds, Jamison Battle missed two and Taurus Samuels missed one.

Meanwhile, Tyler Wahl and Max Klesmit made four from the stripe at the end for the five-point favorite Badgers (17-13, 9-11).


Minnesota will play Nebraska (16-15, 9-11) in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in Chicago on Wednesday night.

Ta’Lon Cooper’s steal, bucket and free throw tied the game at 62 apiece with 2:34 left. Chucky Hepburn hit a 3-pointer with 47 seconds remaining. It was the Badgers’ first made trey of the second half.

Minnesota natives Wahl and Steven Crowl went to work in the low post and combined for 42 points for Wisconsin. Dawson Garcia led the Gophers with 19 points.

Dawson Garcia

The Badgers didn’t score for nearly six minutes, but Minnesota only had a 22-18 lead when Wisconsin’s drought ended.

The Gophers shot 60% from the field, and Battle made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give them a 36-29 halftime lead.

Josh Ola-Joseph and Pharrel Payne dealt with foul trouble in both halves. Ola-Joseph was reluctant to pick up his fourth foul and Wahl was able to be more aggressive in the post. Payne picked up an unnecessary fourth with nine minutes left and his fifth with four minutes remaining.

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Cooper committed his fifth foul in the final minute and sat. Samuels played for the first time all game and missed a free throw with nine seconds left.

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