U rises up at the end to beat Richmond

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2012 - 6:57 AM

The Gophers, finally tested at home, used a dominating final 10 minutes to turn back Richmond's challenge.

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For 30 minutes of basketball, reality hit the Gophers, and it hit hard.

But the Gophers rose to the challenge, reversing a second-half deficit to overcome Richmond, finishing strong and winning 72-57 at Williams Arena on Sunday night to improve to 4-0 on the season.

With 10 minutes remaining in the second half, the Gophers trailed 49-42 to a Richmond team that had kept the home team on its toes all night with its length and scrappiness.

But after going scoreless for just over four minutes, the Gophers, playing before an announced 11,341, made their comeback in a little less than two. Andre Hollins pushed a 12-0 run to give the Gophers a 54-49 advantage, a lead that would never again be threatened.

"We really needed that," said Austin Hollins, who finished with 13 points and four rebounds after going scoreless in the first half. "We had blowouts our first three games, and we didn't need a blowout this game. We needed a game like this, where we faced some adversity, and we overcame."

Representing the last matchup for the Gophers before they face No. 9 Duke in the Bahamas on Thursday, Richmond (3-1) immediately showed it was not going to be pushed around like the Gophers' first three opponents. The Spiders jumped out to a 17-8 lead quickly before the Gophers launched their first comeback, a 15-4 run started when Rodney Williams scored on consecutive layups, throwing his head back and screaming after the second, and then dunked a possession later.

"I was really just trying to get the crowd into it and trying to pump up everybody else because we definitely needed some energy at the time," Williams said.

At halftime, the Gophers led by a point at 30-29, but the Spiders weren't ready to go calmly into the night. Richmond held the Gophers scoreless for a little more than four minutes, as they built up a seven-point lead on Cedrick Lindsay's jumper halfway through the second half.

That's when Andre Hollins took over, starting the Gophers' run with a midrange jumper, and adding a layup and then a three-pointer to put his team ahead. The Gophers rolled to the finish from there, getting six points from Austin Hollins and ending on a 16-6 run.

"We have to relax guys, we have plenty of time to come back," Andre Hollins said he told the team at the time.

Despite their struggles, the Gophers held Richmond -- which hadn't shot any worse that 41 percent all year -- to 33.3 percent shooting overall. But the Gophers struggled to get out in transition early, and they finished with 19 turnovers, which the Spiders turned into 25 points.

Williams led the Gophers with 15 points, one of four double-digit scorers. Andre Hollins had 14 points and Joe Coleman 10, and Trevor Mbakwe recorded a season-high nine points.

The Gophers have three days off to travel and prepare before games at Battle 4 Atlantis begin in the Bahamas, starting with No. 9 Duke on Thursday. Minnesota will play either Virginia Commonwealth or No. 17 Memphis on Friday, and get matched up with another team in the field on Saturday.

Is the team ready?

"No, not after this performance," coach Tubby Smith said. "We've got to go back and look at why we turned the ball over, but I expect we'll be ready [by then]."

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