ANN ARBOR, MICH. – As he walked off the Crisler Arena floor Tuesday night, Richard Pitino wondered if the game’s final shot beat both buzzers.
Charles Matthews’ baseline jumper with less than one second left buried Minnesota’s upset hopes in a 59-57 loss to No. 5 Michigan.
But was the shot good? Officials looked over the play on the monitor for nearly 10 minutes. The question wasn’t whether Matthews beat the final buzzer, which he just barely did, but rather did he beat the shot clock?
He did. Barely.
But should he have?
Michigan’s final possession started with 30.9 seconds left, meaning the shot clock would expire with 0.9 seconds left. But the game-winner appeared to leave Matthews’ hand with 0.8 seconds left.
Too late by 0.1, right?
“It could go either way,” Pitino said. “I’m not gonna say it was clear-cut in his hands, and I’m not gonna say it was clear-cut not in his hands. It was really, really close.”
The crowd cheered when the shot counted, while the Gophers were crushed leaving the court.
“We thought we were going into overtime,” said Gophers center Eric Curry, who blocked the shot that was tipped to Matthews for the game-winner. “But we’re not going to put anything on the refs. We should’ve got the rebound and finished the possession. We always preach that.”
Iggy Brazdeikis finished with 13 of his 18 points in the second half, to go with 11 rebounds to lead the Wolverines (18-1, 7-1), who erased a seven-point deficit early in the second half to bounce back after their first loss of the season to Wisconsin on Saturday.
Jordan Murphy finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Gophers (14-5, 4-4), who missed out on their first victory over a top-five team away from home since beating No. 5 Arizona in the Great Alaska Shootout in 1994.
Gabe Kalscheur’s three-pointer tied the score at 57-57 with 30.9 seconds left. On the game’s final controversial play, Curry swatted a layup attempt by Brazdeikis with the clock winding down. Matthews was waiting for a pass in the left corner, but edged toward the basket after seeing the play unfold. He was at the right place at the right time when the ball was deflected out. One dribble got him past a leaping Amir Coffey. Matthews then drilled the jumper over Murphy’s outstretched hands.
Pitino didn’t want to dwell on that call after the game.
“It’s a long season with a lot of terrific opportunities in front of us,” he said. “It kind of is what it is. We grew today.”
The Gophers silenced Michigan’s crowd early, scoring the first six points. Kalscheur’s three midway through the first half gave them a 19-10 lead, but foul trouble slowed their momentum.
Even with Murphy sitting most of the first half because of two fouls, Minnesota managed to take a 31-28 halftime lead. The Wolverines were held to 31 percent shooting and were losing the rebounding battle 22-15.
Kalscheur, who had 11 points, scored on a layup to make it 36-29 early in the second half, but Michigan rallied.
Brazdeikis, who went scoreless against Wisconsin, scored 12 points during a 23-3 run as the Wolverines took a 52-39 lead. Twice during the rally, Brazdeikis was fouled beyond the three-point line when Minnesota’s big men left their feet to defend jump shots.
Even though the Gophers went scoreless from the field for nearly 10 minutes, they weren’t done fighting back. They held Michigan scoreless during a four-minute stretch at the end of the second half, and Coffey’s layup ignited a 10-0 run to tie the score.
But Michigan’s second-chance shot in the last second settled things. At least officially.
“We were hoping it was a shot clock violation, so we could go into overtime,” said Murphy, whose team lost 76-73 in overtime last year at Michigan. “We think we were playing those guys pretty well.”