Murphy’s double-double pushes Minnesota past Harvard
Junior forward Jordan Murphy extended his double-double streak to 15 straight games as Minnesota held off Harvard for a 65-55 nonconference victory Saturday afternoon at Williams Arena.
Murphy finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Gophers (12-3), who earned their fourth win in a row. His 15 consecutive double-doubles stand as the nation’s longest streak to start a season since Tim Duncan strung together 17 in 1996-97 for Wake Forest.
The Gophers shot just 33 percent while playing without first-team all-Big Ten point guard Nate Mason, who injured his ankle in the team’s previous game on Dec. 23. The senior is expected to be ready when Minnesota resumes Big Ten play Wednesday against Illinois.
In Mason’s stead, freshman guard Isaiah Washington made his second career start and posted nine points with a career-high 13 rebounds. Junior guard Dupree McBrayer led all scorers with 15 points and sophomore guard Amir Coffey notched 12 points with five assists.
For Harvard (5-8), junior guard Corey Johnson canned four 3-pointers for his team-high 12 points. Sophomore forwards Chris Lewis and Seth Towns added 10 points apiece as the visitors made just 32.8 percent of their shots.
Minnesota’s lead sat at 29-20 at the break and swelled to 41-28 on McBrayer’s 3-pointer with 13:57 to go, but that’s when Harvard launched its first counterattack.
The Crimson reeled off seven points in a row -- capped by Johnson’s 3 -- to pull within 41-35 with 11:24 to play.
But when Washington answered with a layup and Coffey fed sophomore forward Michael Hurt for a dunk in transition, Harvard trailed again by 10 and head coach Tommy Amaker called a timeout with 10:30 left.
That stoppage triggered another 7-0 Harvard run capped by another Johnson 3-pointer to slice Minnesota’s margin to 45-42.
Once again, the Gophers’ guards had the answer. McBrayer canned his third trey, Washington hit his first 3-pointer and then tacked on a layup to restore the lead to 53-42 with 6:49 to go.
At that point, the suspense over which team would win the game was eclipsed by the suspense over whether Murphy would earn his customary double-double. Murphy’s jumper at the 17:05 mark gave him nine points, but he didn’t hit double figures until Coffey fed him on the block for a layup with 4:03 to play.