Turnovers! Bad shooting! Lax defense! Tuesday night's NIT semifinal between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Washington Huskies just might have been the most NIT game ever. Even though the Gophers led by double digits late into the second half, they allowed the Huskies to get back into the game and force overtime with some terrible decision-making. Minnesota was one point better in OT, however, and will go to the final after pulling out a 68-67 win.
Andre Hollins was huge for Minnesota in the final three minutes of regulation and overtime. In that eight-minute period, he scored 11 of his team-leading 20 points. Rodney Williams also had a big game for Minnesota with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Minnesota shot the ball much better than Washington, but they allowed the Huskies to stay in the game with their 18 turnovers.
With under a minute remaining in regulation, Minnesota led by four points, but found a way to let Washington force OT and almost hit a buzzer-beating winner in regulation. Down 61-57, Abdul Gaddy got to the line for Washington and hit both free throws. On the ensuing inbound pass, C.J. Wilcox pulled off a great steal and layup, tying the game at 61-61.
Minnesota quickly pushed the ball up the floor looking for a winning shot, but they did so a little too quickly. Andre Hollins pulled up and missed a jumper with eight seconds remaining, allowing Washington to get a rebound and look for a winning basket of their own. Tony Wroten got a good look from just over the halfcourt line, but his shot hit the back iron.
Andre Hollins continued to make shots in overtime, and his brother Austin made a crucial bucket as well. Minnesota led 68-65 with under 10 seconds left in overtime when Darnell Gant made a layup for Washington to cut the lead to one. They instantly fouled Julian Welch. Welch missed both free throws and Abdul Gaddy put up a decent heave, but came up just short for Washington.