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Gophers lose slugfest with Northwestern, fall into Big Ten Tournament loser's bracket



Northwestern delivered the last blow in Friday morning’s Big Ten Tournament slugfest with the Gophers. The Wildcats scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh and one more in the eighth to hold on for an 11-7 victory and advance to Saturday’s semifinals.

The Gophers’ final rally effort was spoiled after stranding two runners on base in the ninth inning. They drop into the loser’s bracket and face Indiana in an elimination game Friday at 4 p.m.

The Gophers built an early lead against Northwestern with two runs in the top of the first inning when Micah Coffey hit a two-run home run on the eighth pitch of the game. The lead did not last long.

Northwestern scored three runs with two outs in the bottom half of the first. Connor Lind doubled with the bases loaded, driving in all three runs for a 3-2 lead. The Gophers rallied for a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning and tied the game 7-7 in the seventh, but ran out of offense in the final two innings. 

The teams combined for 21 hits, eight extra-base hits, and four home runs. Coffey led the Gophers going 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. 

The game was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday but pushed to Friday morning due to the length of other games. Friday morning’s game lasted nearly four hours.

Game results, brackets and more tournament information are here.

Ex-Wolves Love, Williams finally share championship experience



Kevin Love and Derrick Williams together finally achieved what Timberwolves fans dreamed of when they first joined forces five years ago in Minnesota.

The former lottery draft picks celebrated Thursday night an Eastern Conference championship and berth in the NBA Finals as Cleveland Cavaliers teammates.

While Love and Williams had plenty of support around them, including arguably the best player in the world LeBron James leading the effort, Wolves fans might wonder what could have been possible if the pair had stayed together in Minnesota.

Love had a double-double, 15 points and 11 rebounds, along with four steals, three assists and one block in the Cavs’ 135-102 Game 5 victory over Boston. Williams played eight minutes off the bench and scored two points and had two assists.

Williams received recognition from Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue during Thursday night’s trophy presentation. Williams averaged 5.6 minutes and 2.8 points per game in the postseason.

Love, who is part of Cleveland’s “Big 3” with James and Kyrie Irving, is averaging a double-double in the postseason with 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds.

Cleveland signed Williams to a 10-day contract Feb. 9 after Love was sidelined with an injury. Williams eventually earned a contract through the remainder of the season and will make his first NBA Finals appearance. Love is making his third consecutive NBA Finals appearance with the Cavs, but was sidelined in 2015.

The Love, Williams and Ricky Rubio “Big 3” was split up when the Wolves traded Williams to Sacramento in November 2013 for Luc Mbah a Moute. Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, is now with his fifth NBA team and appears to establishing a healthy role and proving he can contribute on offense and defense.

James and Love both praised Williams’ potential.

"He's 25 years old," James told reporters in March. "It doesn't seem like it because we've been hearing his name for so long. But he's 25, he hasn't even gotten to his potential, to his prime yet. So hopefully this group, this locker room, myself, my leadership – just want to see him grow every day, and it's a good place for him."

Love said, "[Williams] is so talented. … He can play multiple positions … he can run the floor, he can jump, he can shoot the ball. Just a lot of things he can do and with this veteran group and I think he's only going to take steps in the right direction."

If Williams can continue to take the right steps under the Cavs' leadership, this could be one of many more championships the former Wolves celebrate together.  

 

The best birthday present ever !! We going to the Ship !! #EcfChampions #Cavs

A post shared by Derrick Williams (@dwxxiii) on

 

Podium squad with the All Time Post Season Scoring Leader. Eastern Conference Champs X3!!!

A post shared by @kevinlove on