Minnesota was down early, but their depth and domination inside helped them come back and pull out a 86-85 victory against DePaul in the second quarterfinal of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Florida.
The Golden Gophers gave their team more chances on the offensive end with 19 boards, totaling 37 for the whole game. That's compared to the Blue Demons' 24 total rebounds. Golden Gophers also dominated bench points, 45-24.
Trevor Mbakwe was a dominating presence in the post, leading the Golden Gophers with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Rodney Williams shot efficiently, making 7-of-9 from field and four more at the foul line for a total of 18 points off the bench, along with five rebounds. The Blue Demons' Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin were about half of the offensive output, shooting 23 and 20 points respectively. Krys Faber got nearly half of the team's rebounds himself with 11 boards.
Both teams started off hot from the field, hitting about 67 percent in the first five minutes of the game. During this run and throughout the half, both teams attacked the rim to get layups and dunks.
Once things cooled off, the Golden Gophers started to struggle, including missing all four of their shots behind the arc. They abandoned those shots the rest of the half.
The difference in the first half, however, was the Blue Demons' ability to hit the three-point shot, nailing 5-of-10, including two from Young.
The up-and-down play by both teams continued in the second half. The Golden Gophers took advantage of their second chance shots and play from their bench to come back and finally take the lead at 72-71 with 8:03 to go in the game.
After this game, do you think the Blue Demons have enough strength inside to compete in the Big East?
Depth cost the Blue Demons down the stretch. They ran out of gas and continued to get beat inside, especially by Mbawke. The game was deadlocked at 84-81 in the final two minutes until Young made a jumper to get it within one with a minute to go. After a questionable charge on the Blue Demons by Melvin, Julian Welch missed both free throws for the Golden Gophers. Williams got the offensive board and then put it back in to extend the lead back to three.
The Blue Demons couldn't get the final three, but they got the board and layup to get the lead back to 86-85. However, only a half second remained in the game, and they couldn't get a foul in time.
Without question, Minnesota was too much for DePaul inside for a full 40 minutes. Both teams played well in the post, but the Golden Gophers were better off the bench. The Blue Demons only made one three-point shot in the second half, and couldn't make that clutch three pointer at the end to tie.
Minnesota remains undefeated and move to 5-0 on the season as DePaul falls to 2-1. The Golden Gophers will be playing the Indiana State Sycamores in the semifinals tomorrow afternoon at 12:00 eastern on ESPN.