There will be a Pitino coaching for a postseason championship after all. But it’s probably not the one you were expecting.
Richard Pitino—the 31-year-old son of legendary coach Rick Pitino—led his Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 67-64 overtime victory over the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday night, advancing to the finals of the NIT.
With the victory, the Golden Gophers will face Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs on Thursday night for the championship.
Minnesota (24-13) came out shooting the lights out of the building. The Gophers hit their first six shots from the field, including four from behind the arc to build an early 11-point lead.
Minnesota led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but it closed the first 20 minutes without a field goal in the final 6:35 to keep the Seminoles in the game and down by just 10 at the break.
Florida State (22-14) came out strong in the second half. Its defense was greatly improved, and it chipped away at the Gophers lead, pulling even at 45 with 8:16 to play.
The Seminoles briefly led at 51-50 with just under four minutes to play, but had to force overtime on a stunning Devon Bookert three-point shot with just 0.3 second remaining in regulation.
The door was left open for the Seminoles after Malik Scott—82 percent from the line during the season—missed two foul shots that could’ve iced the game.
Overtime wasn’t pretty. The two teams combined for only one field goal, but it was the Gophers free throw shooting that led them to victory.
Minnesota connected on 7-of-10 from the stripe in the extra frame.
Austin Hollins and Deandre Mathieu each had 17 points to lead the Gophers.
Ian Miller and Okaro White both had 16 for the Seminoles in the losing effort.