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2/15 Big Ten Recap: Minnesota wins in final seconds

Gophers win fourth straight; Terrapins move a half-game back of first place

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Conference standings continued to get tighter and tighter on Wednesday night. Maryland won to keep pace with the Big Ten Conference leaders while Minnesota pulled one out to move above .500 in conference play.

Let’s recap the night’s action.

Big Ten Game of the Night:

-Minnesota Golden Gophers 75, Indiana Hoosiers 74

Minnesota has made a habit of playing close games this season. The Gophers (19-7, 7-6) have been winning them as of late, earning their fourth straight win with Wednesday’s 75-74 home win over Indiana (15-12, 5-9).

Wednesday’s game came down to the final possession. The teams traded leads five times in the last minute, including a pair of free throws by Thomas Bryant that gave Indiana a 74-73 lead with 17 seconds remaining.

Akeem Springs took control on Minnesota’s final possession, missing a tough 3-pointer from the left corner. But the senior guard followed his shot, grabbing the offensive rebound and putting it back to give the Gophers a 75-74 lead with 3 seconds to play. Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr. got a decent look at a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but it was no good as the Hoosiers lost their fourth straight game.

Springs made up for a rough night in which he scored just 4 points on 2-of-13 shooting, including going 0-for-6 from behind the arc. The Gophers as a whole struggled offensively, shooting just 38.7 percent (24-for-62) from the field, but helping make up for it by shooting 75.0 percent (21-for-28) from the free-throw line.

Nate Mason was the driving force for the Minnesota offense. The junior point guard scored a game-high 30 points, shooting 8-of-19 from the field, 3-of-6 from behind the arc and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. Jordan Murphy had his third straight double-double, collecting 14 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 4-of-6 from the field. Amir Coffey finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Gophers.

The shorthanded Hoosiers were relentless on the boards, grabbing 20 offensive rebounds and outrebounding the Gophers 51-44. However, Indiana committed 14 turnovers while shooting just 34.7 percent (26-for-75) from the field, including 25.9 percent (7-for-27) from the 3-point line. Blackmon led the Hoosiers with 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting, going 4-of-11 from behind the arc.

The Indiana big men were active on Wednesday. Juwan Morgan came off the bench to tally 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, despite shooting just 3-of-12. Deron Davis added 10 points, five rebounds and one block, while Thomas Bryant chipped in 8 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one block.

Seven of Minnesota’s last eight games have been decided by single digits, with the lone exception coming in a 101-89 double-overtime win over Iowa on Feb. 8. The Gophers lost their first four games during that stretch before rallying with four straight wins to move to sixth place in the Big Ten.

While the Gophers are trending up, The Hoosiers are in a free fall. Indiana is scoring 80.3 points per game on the season, but the Hoosiers are averaging just 65.3 points per game during their four-game losing streak.

At this point, the Hoosiers most likely need to win the Big Ten Conference Tournament, if they are going to get into the NCAA Tournament field.

The Rest:

-Maryland Terrapins 74, Northwestern Wildcats 64

No. 23 Maryland appears to have climbed out of its brief slump, as the Terrapins went into Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday and beat Northwestern to win their second straight game. The game was never in doubt for the Terrapins, who opened up a 32-22 halftime lead and led by as many as 20 points in the second half.

While Maryland (22-4, 10-3) has been a pleasant surprise this year, Melo Trimble broke out of a slump on Wednesday by playing like everyone thought he would this year. The junior point guard broke out for a career-high 32 points, shooting 12-of-17 from the field, 4-of-5 from the 3-point line and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. Trimble added four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in the win.

Trimble was the head of a Maryland team that shot 50.0 percent (27-for-54) from the floor, including 44.4 percent (8-for-18) from behind the arc. Anthony Cowan added 13 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals for the Terrapins, while Damonte Dodd chipped in 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

Northwestern (19-7, 8-5) couldn’t get anything to drop, shooting just 39.0 percent (23-for-59) from the field, 22.7 percent (5-for-22) from the 3-point line and 56.5 percent (13-for-23) from the free-throw line.

The bright spot was freshman guard Isiah Brown, who came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Vic Law added 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks despite shooting just 1-of-6 from behind the arc.

Sophomore center Dererk Pardon finished with 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Northwestern played without leading scorer Scott Lindsey for the fourth straight game due to illness, while Bryant McIntosh shot just 3-of-13 from the field while playing with foul trouble.

The win pulled Maryland into a second-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten, just a half game behind 10-2 Wisconsin, which plays at Michigan on Thursday. The Terrapins will get a chance to pull into first when they travel to Madison to take on the Badgers on Sunday.

Wednesday was a bit of a let down for Northwestern, which was coming off a 66-59 win at then-No. 7 Wisconsin on Sunday. The Wildcats have now lost three of their last four games, but Wednesday was far from a bad loss. Northwestern should be able to make its first ever NCAA Tournament if the Wildcats can handle their business down the stretch.