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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern gets blown out 77-60 at Minnesota

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Rock bottom for the season.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — In what was never truly a close affair, Minnesota (13-12, 4-12 B1G) completely outplayed Northwestern (12-13, 5-11 B1G) in all facets of the game, with the Wildcats ultimately falling 77-60.

Jamison Battle and Luke Loewe led the way for the Gophers, scoring 21 and 24 points, respectively. As a team, they shot 56 percent from the field, while Northwestern, led by an 18-point performance from Pete Nance, converted on just 37 percent of its looks.

Both teams started the game with hot three-point shooting. Pete Nance got the scoring going, hitting a corner three, which was followed by a Robbie Beran three in the same spot. Minnesota responded by hitting back-to-back threes of their own courtesy of guards Loewe and E.J. Stephens.

A Robbie Beran layup off a sweet pass from Nance tied the game at 8 apiece before the Golden Gophers proceeded to go on an 11-0 run behind hot shooting and stifling zone defense. Ty Berry momentarily stopped the bleeding with a three at the top of the key, but Loewe hit another three of his own a minute later to keep the lead at 11.

Minnesota continued to hit shot after shot, while Northwestern turned the ball over and failed to find easy looks of its own. Jumpers from Loewe and forward Jamison Battle extended the Gophers’ lead to 30-13 with just over seven minutes to play in the first.

Simmons and Nance hit two buckets of their own, a layup and a jumper, respectively, to bring the deficit back to 15, but Minnesota center Treyton Thompson and Stephens hit back-to-back threes to further extend the lead.

With three minutes remaining in the first half, Casey Simmons drove in for a layup and took a hard fall. Chris Collins and his staff did not agree with the call and made sure to let the ref know, resulting in a technical foul that led to two made free throws and another Stephens three-pointer. This gave Minnesota its largest lead of the game at 21 points with a score of 41-20.

Both teams couldn’t get much of anything to fall in the following two minutes, but Simmons was able to make a last-second layup off a missed free throw attempt to cut the deficit to 16 before the buzzer sounded. Northwestern went into halftime trailing 43-27, with the big difference lying in shooting percentages. Minnesota shot over 50 percent from the field and an impressive 8-of-15 from long range, while Northwestern shot just 38 percent and was 3-of-10 from three.

Battle came out of the break and immediately hit a jumper, but Buie responded and scored Northwestern’s next seven points with a combination of free throws, jumpers and a three. The Wildcats’ defense was able to force the Gophers into some more contested looks at the start of the second half, and as a result, they were able to make it a ten-point game at the under-16 media timeout.

A Nance three-pointer following the timeout made it 47-40 Minnesota, but Loewe answered with yet another three of his own. The Wildcats got cold again and the Gophers took advantage, embarking on a 16-4 run with scoring coming from Loewe, Stephens and Battle, all of whom simply could not miss.

Buie hit a nifty floater right before the under-eight media timeout, but the damage had been done, and Minnesota’s lead was back to 20.

The Gopher lead stayed around 20 for the rest of the game, with Chris Collins opting to put in the reserves with just under four minutes remaining. The final score was

Northwestern will return home to take on Nebraska on Tuesday night at 7pm CT.