MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota guard Nate Mason enjoyed his Senior Night at Williams Arena, while Iowa was just glad to be done playing road games this season.
Mason scored 33 points Wednesday night in the Gophers’ 86-82 men’s basketball victory over the Hawkeyes. He scored nine of them in a 19-0 run that gave his team a 22-2 lead with 11:07 left in the first half. His team didn’t quite squander that advantage despite allowing an 11-0 run once Iowa ended its drought.
The win elevated Minnesota to 4-13 in the Big Ten, 15-15 overall. It ended the Gophers’ nine-game losing streak.
Iowa tumbled into a tie with Rutgers in the league’s basement at 3-14, and is 12-18 overall. It was the Hawkeyes’ sixth-consecutive loss, and they ended their Big Ten road season with just one win in nine tries. They trailed by at least 18 points in each of those nine road games.
The Hawkeyes did battle back to within 84-82 with 3 seconds left thanks to a fairly determined last-minute rally that began when they trailed 78-68 with 52 seconds remaining. But Minnesota senior Davontae Fitzgerald made two foul shots with 2.1 seconds left to secure the win.
Isaiah Moss scored a career-high 32 points for Iowa, 16 in the game’s final 1:11.
Minnesota jetted to its early 20-point lead by scoring 19 unanswered points in a stretch of 7:32. Eleven came directly off Iowa turnovers.
Mason had a 3-point play at the 11:07 mark to cap the rally. He had 12 points before the Hawkeyes got their second score.
Iowa had nine turnovers and Minnesota eight steals in those first nine minutes.
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But once Jack Nunge scored on a layup to end Iowa’s drought, it was as if Minnesota’s spigot suddenly shut off. The Gophers began taking and missing a lot of long shots — they were 4 of 16 from 3-point range in the half — and Iowa grinded out its 11-0 run over 6:45 to pull within 22-13. Iowa freshman Luka Garza scored seven points in that stretch.
Finally, Jordan Murphy ended Minnesota’s dry spell with a basket with 3:34 left, and the teams pretty much traded scores the rest of the half, which ended with the Gophers ahead 31-19 despite shooting just 35.3 percent (12 of 34) from the field. Iowa was an even icier 9 of 28 for 32.1 percent.
Sophomores Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon, the Hawkeyes’ two leading scorers this season, were non-factors scoring-wise. Both were scoreless at halftime, and Bohannon was shut out for the first time this season. He did have a game-high six assists. Cook had six points.
Garza scored 16 points for Iowa, but sat and watched much of the second half as sophomore Ryan Kriener tallied 14 in the game’s last 11 minutes. Kriener’s season-high had been six points, and he had scored a total of six points over the Hawkeyes’ previous 10 games.
Iowa closes its regular season Sunday with a 6:30 p.m. home game against Northwestern.