Osenieks surprises, helps Gophers advance to NIT final

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 2, 2014 - 6:09 AM

Oto Osenieks un-retired to help the Gophers dispose of Florida State in OT.

view larger photos

  

– Three weeks ago, Williams Arena fans thought they’d witnessed the end of Oto Osenieks’ career.

Hampered by knee injuries, the junior power forward had announced he would hang up his sneakers, ending his career in maroon and gold as a student manager rather than a player.

Tuesday, it was that future retiree — who hadn’t played since that day — who helped bring new life into Minnesota’s present.

With center Elliott Eliason sidelined because of a left ankle injury and forward Joey King in early foul trouble, Osenieks made a surprising contribution, scrapping out a 32-minute, four-point, four-rebound night against one of the largest frontcourts in the nation.

Along with the hot-shooting guard trio of Andre Hollins (13 points), Austin Hollins (17) and DeAndre Mathieu (17), it was enough to nudge the Gophers past Florida State 67-64 in one nerve-racking overtime.

For the second time in three years, Minnesota will head to the NIT championship. The Gophers (24-13) will play SMU (27-9) at 6 p.m. Central time Thursday.

The 24 victories broke Minnesota’s school record.

“He came to us and said, “I want to play, I want to help this team,’ when Elliott went down,” Pitino said of Osenieks. “And you talk about the player of the game, it’s got to be him.”

The towering frontcourt of Florida State (22-14), including 7-1 Michael Ojo and 7-3 Boris Bojanovsky — was never able to capitalize on its huge size, as those two combined for eight points and eight rebounds in an overall poor shooting night for the Seminoles. But they found one final push at the end of regulation.

Minnesota was clinging to a 60-55 lead with 19 seconds left after Andre Hollins and Mathieu each hit a pair of free throws. But after Devon Bookert’s layup, Smith ricocheted two foul shots off the rim to set up a final chance for Florida State with 8 seconds to go.

With precious seconds ticking away, Bookert got the ball again and scooted up the court with Smith on him like a glove.

At the top of the arc, he separated enough to send a three-pointer sailing past Smith’s outstretched hand and through the net with 0.3 seconds remaining — 60-60 and overtime.

“Once it went up, you couldn’t do anything about it,” Austin Hollins said. “In that situation, you’ve just got to let it go and move on, and that’s what we did.”

Between the two teams, only 11 labored points were scored in the extra session. Both Florida State and Minnesota were clearly fatigued and sloppy. Thankfully for the Gophers, they owned seven of those points.

Junior center Mo Walker — who stepped into Eliason’s spot in the starting lineup — got to the free-throw line eight times in overtime, making six of those shots to seal the narrow victory. He finished with nine points and a team-high six rebounds.

Even so, the Seminoles had a chance to repeat their last-second magic by a different hand. After Andre Hollins missed the front end of two free throws to give the Gophers a 67-64 lead with 6 seconds left, Ian Millar’s shot to again tie the score bounced off the rim and the Gophers breathed a sigh of relief at midcourt.

“We condition hard all year and we knew we were a better-conditioned team and Coach told us to stay calm in the huddle,” Mathieu said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Even the rocky wins count, and this one keeps Minnesota advancing.



 

  • NIT semifinals Gophers 67, Florida State 64 (OT)

    NIT Championship: 6 p.m. Thursday vs. SMU • Madison Square Garden • TV: ESPN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close