The Minnesota Gophers fell into a big hole on Saturday afternoon, but after rallying from a 23-point deficit, Minnesota dropped its fourth straight game 81-71 to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Minnesota came into the game without senior Eric Curry, who suffered an ankle injury in the closing moments of a loss to Michigan State. Without their senior leader, the Gophers had just eight scholarship players active, helping Iowa outscore Minnesota 52-32 in the paint.
With Keegan Murray (25 points, nine rebounds) leading the way, the Hawkeyes looked to have the game in hand. But the shorthanded Gophers made their move behind E.J. Stephens.
The senior stepped up with 17 of his team-high 24 points in the second half and Jamison Battle helped lead a 9-0 run to cut the lead down to 11 points with seven minutes to go.
With the Gophers in striking distance, they turned to seven-foot freshman Treyton Thompson. The Alexandria alum had eight points in the second half and helped Minnesota cut the lead down to five points with three minutes to go.
Battle hit another 3-pointer to bring it to a one-possession game but the Hawkeyes answered with a 3-pointer by Murray. After Murray recorded a stuff on the following possession, Luke Loewe's layup was too strong off the glass and Iowa was able to put the game away at the free throw line.
The Gophers (10-5, 1-4 Big Ten) will look to get back in the win column when they travel to Penn State on Wednesday.