Minnesota never trailed Sunday in its final tuneup before entering the meat of its Big 10 Conference schedule, bumping off Mount St. Mary’s 71-53 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Dupree McBrayer led the Golden Gophers’ balanced attack with 15 points, while Amir Coffey added 13. Daniel Oturu chipped in a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and senior forward Jordan Murphy finished with 10 points and nine boards.
Murphy, who entered the game averaging 16.2 points and 12.9 rebounds, was double-teamed throughout the day and tried just two shots from the field in 27 minutes.
Vado Morse pumped in a game-high 18 points off the bench for the Mountaineers (3-10) and Dee Barnes contributed 13. The duo combined to make six 3-pointers, but Mount St. Mary’s couldn’t make enough shots to spring an upset, sinking just 33.9 percent from the field.
Still, the Mountaineers were in contention after slicing a 44-28 second-half deficit down to 51-45 as Jalen Gibbs converted a driving layup with 7:17 left. But Oturu’s layup started a 7-0 spurt that upped the lead to 13 at the 5:10 mark and quelled the upset bid.
Minnesota (11-2) started the game as though intent on running Mount St. Mary’s out of the building, scoring the first nine points in just 2:37. Coffey capped the spurt by dunking in transition, forcing a 30-second timeout by the Mountaineers.
The margin reached 11 with 4:43 left in the first half when Eric Curry converted a layup off a Jordan Murphy feed, but Mount St. Mary’s wouldn’t let the Golden Gophers blow it out. The Mountaineers stayed within arm’s length for the half’s remainder, eventually heading to the locker room down 31-23 following a pull-up jumper by Omar Habwe with a minute left in the half.
Poor shooting colored the Mountaineers’ effort in the first half. They canned only 2 of their first 15 attempts and finished the half at 10 of 34 from the field. Minnesota hit just 40 percent from the field but enjoyed a 27-18 rebounding advantage.
—Field Level Media