A furious rally late in the second half came up short for the Gopher men as they lost to Penn State, 79-76, on a last-second 3-point shot by D.J. Newbill Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.
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Newbill, the Big Ten's leading scorer, had 31 points for the Nittany Lions including 5 for 11 from 3-point range, the Associated Press reports.
The last regular season game for the Gophers started on a high note, after a pre-game ceremony honoring the team's five seniors. Minnesota came out sharp and led 17-12 early on. Andre Hollins scored three straight from behind the arc to provide the spark.
But Penn State got hot, making six 3-pointers in the last 10 minutes of the half and led 43-34 at the break, according to the Star Tribune.
Minnesota battled back in the second half, and took a 66-65 lead late in the game on a dunk by Mo Walker with 6:19 to go. The game went back and forth the rest of the way.
The Gophers' Joey King was fouled with 14 seconds left and made one of two free throws, which tied the game at 76-76. Penn State got the final shot – Newbill's long ball, to to win at the buzzer.
Walker scored a career-high 26 points and had 11 rebounds, while King had 19 points on a career-high five 3-pointers for the Gophers, the Associated Press reports.
Hollins was scoreless in the second half after tallying 13 points before the break.
The Gophers (17-14, 6-12) lost for the eighth time in conference play by six points or fewer, half of those by three or less.
On the other side, Penn State (16-15, 4-14) snapped a six-game losing streak. The last time the Nittany Lions won at Williams Arena was 2011, according to the AP.
Of the five seniors – centers Elliott Eliason and Walker, guards Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu and walk-on Kendall Shell – coach Richard Pitino started all of them except Walker, who came off the bench.
The loss means the Gophers will compete in a "play-in game" for the bottom four seeded teams in the Big Ten tournament, which gets underway on Wednesday in Chicago.
The Gophers are the 11th seed in the tournament and will face 14th-seeded Rutgers at 6 p.m. Wednesday.