Gophers defeat Western Illinois 86-64

Minnesota got back on the winning track by defeating Western Illinois at Williams Arena 86-64. The win improved the Gophers' record to 3-2 and a perfect 3-0 at home. The Leathernecks are now 0-7 under first-year head coach Derek Thomas, who was an assistant at Minnesota for the 1999-2000 season.

Minnesota held Western Illinois without a field goal for the first 3:35, but the Leathernecks rallied to tie the score at 8-8. The Gophers went up 26-14 as Kris Humphries made both free throws. Humphries scored eight of the team's first 12 points and 12 of their first 26. The Leathernecks cut the margin to 26-22 and trailed at halftime 33-26.

Ben Johnson made eight of his first 10 shots in the second half as the Gophers went to a 26-5 run to start the second half. Minnesota held the Leathernecks scoreless for 5:15 and without a field goal for the first 9:15 of the second half as the Gophers expanded the lead to 59-31.

The Gophers removed their starters to put in their reserves in the second half of the final quarter. Redshirt freshman Aliou Kane had two dunks and Matt Smriga scored two layups. Head coach Dan Monson inserted the walk-ons in the final two minutes.

Johnson, who scored 32 points against Furman in the Gophers' last home game, finished with 23 points as he made 10 of 12 shots from the field. He made all three three-pointers. Kris Humphries continued his strong play as he finished with 14 points, (12 in the first half) 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. It was his fourth double-double in five games. Maurice Hargrow added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Adam Boone dished out 10 assists to go along with his seven points. Stanley Gaines continued his strong play off the bench, making four of five shots from the field for eight points. Senior forward Michael Bauer was held scoreless after missing all three field goal attempts.

Western Illinois had three double-figure scorers as 6-5 junior Doyle Cole and 6-3 senior guard J.D. Summers had 13 points and 5-9 freshman guard T.J. Gray added eleven.

The Leathernecks continued their struggles with their shooting, as they have made just 35.6 percent of their shots.

The Gophers shot 59 percent in the second half (23-39) after making just 12 of 30 (40 percent in the first half. The Leathernecks had been outrebounded by 11 per game entering the game and were outboarded by the Gophers 53-30. The 53 rebounds are the most for the Gophers since the 1998-99 season.

The Gophers will face Long Beach State Tuesday. The 49ers are currently 1-3, having lost to Pepperdine 87-73 Saturday.

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