Rapid Recap: Minnesota 77, Northwestern 60


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Boo Buie shoots. Buie scored 16 points in Northwestern’s 77-60 loss to Minnesota.

Patrick Andres, Sports Editor

Northwestern took on Minnesota for the first time in the 2022 season Saturday afternoon, looking to avenge the 51-46 loss that ended its season in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament.

The Wildcats had no such luck, as the Golden Gophers punched them in the mouth from the outset. Minnesota came away with a decisive 77-60 win.

Senior forward Pete Nance drained a corner three for the ballgame’s first points, and junior forward Robbie Beran added a corner three of his own. The Golden Gophers also hit three threes in the opening minutes, taking a 15-8 lead and forcing coach Chris Collins to call an early timeout.

NU’s nightmarish start continued as Minnesota reeled off 11 straight points before sophomore guard Ty Berry canned a three. The Cats continued their sleepy ways for much of the first half, as graduate forward Elyjah Williams missed a pair of free throws and threw the ball into the stands. The Gophers led 29-13 at the under-eight, into which NU carried a 2:05 scoring drought.

Gradually, Nance began to get into a rhythm, ending the half with 11 points. It wasn’t enough to stave off a superb shooting performance from Minnesota, which parlayed a 16-for-28 first half into a 43-27 halftime lead.

The Gophers picked up right where they left off to begin the second half as guard Jamison Battle hit a jumper that coincided with redshirt junior guard Chase Audige getting called for flopping. The Cats shook off their poor start and began to attack Minnesota, pulling within 12 2:36 into the second half, and an Audige layup forced Gophers coach Ben Johnson to call timeout.

NU crawled within seven on the strength of a Nance three before going cold and watching Minnesota expand its lead back to 17 at the under-12. The Cats were never in the game after that; the Gophers led by as many as 22 points in their eventual victory.


  • No Willis, no problem for Minnesota early

Minnesota guard Payton Willis was ruled out before the game due to COVID-19 considerations, but the Golden Gophers didn’t seem to miss a beat without his 15.6 points per game. Johnson’s squad put up 15 three-point attempts in the first half and made eight, taking a 16-point lead into the intermission.

  • Northwestern’s cavalier play is costly

The Wildcats turned the ball over six times in the first half, and they tended to be sloppy giveaways. Audige turned it over on NU’s very first possession, Williams had a pair of turnovers, and Nance lost the ball and traveled. It was an unusually careless performance from the Cats’ veterans, and it contributed directly to NU’s halftime deficit and eventual demise.

  • The Cats regroup and but can’t finish the job

NU’s aggressive start to the second half stirred memories of its second-half renaissance against Illinois on Sunday. As was the case in Champaign, the Cats couldn’t get over the hump. NU whittled the lead to seven points but lost by 17, presumably putting the final nail in its already slim at-large postseason chances.

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Twitter: @pandres2001