Barn burned

Despite 19 points from John Shurna and 15 from Michael Thompson, Northwestern fell 65-61 to Minnesota on Tuesday at The Barn. The loss drops Northwestern to 14-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten with a trip to East Lansing looming.

MINNEAPOLIS - John Shurna scored 19 points and Michael Thompson added 15, but Northwestern came up just short at Williams Arena Tuesday night, falling 65-61 to Minnesota.

NU falls to 14-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten with the loss, while Minnesota improves to 13-7 and 4-4.

Northwestern came out of the gates on fire, doing whatever it liked on the offensive end. Thompson's 3-pointer at the 13:04 mark gave the Wildcats an 18-12 lead at the time.

Displeased with his starters' performance, Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith went to his bench and got a boost. The Gophers also picked up full-court defensively and were able to disrupt NU's rhythm.

The hosts went on a 19-5 run to turn a six-point deficit into an eight-point lead. Minnesota would eventually take a 33-25 lead into the break.

The Wildcats changed defenses to start the second half and the 1-3-1 zone helped NU get back in the game. Northwestern forced a bevy of Gopher turnovers and crept within one, 42-41, on following a 3-pointer by Thompson with 11 minutes to go.

Minnesota built its lead back up to five, but another triple by Thompson tied the game before Shurna made one free throw to give Northwestern a 49-48 advantage with 5:08 left.

However, Blake Hoffarber nailed consecutive triples to allow the Gophers to take back a 54-49 advantage with four minutes remaining. The Minnesota lead would grow to seven before Jeremy Nash hit a 3-pointer and made a lay-up to get NU to within two.

But again Hoffarber drilled a trey, this time as the shot clock expired, to give the Gophers a 59-54 advantage. Luka Mirkovic converted two free throws with 1:21 remaining to draw Northwestern back within three and the Wildcats got a stop on the other end, but Shurna's jumper was off the mark and NU was forced to foul.

Devoe Joseph missed the front end of the bonus, but Hoffarber was able to grab the rebound and hit two from the line after he was fouled. Thompson drilled a trey with 3.5 seconds remaining to get NU within two, but Lawrence Westbrook hit two free throws to seal the win for Minnesota.

Hoffarber led the Gophers with 20 points, while Westbrook added 18.

Northwestern returns to action at 6 p.m. Central time Saturday when it travels to fifth-ranked Michigan State.


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