The Gophers men’s basketball team was down three points with 4 seconds left, and the Gophers had one last Hail Mary to avoid disaster.
Freshman Kevin Dorsey went to the line, looking to tie the score vs. South Dakota with a make on the first free throw and a miss, rebound and a score from a teammate on the second.
But Dorsey missed the shot he was supposed to make and made the shot he was supposed to miss. And the Gophers, after a long afternoon of mistake-laden basketball, were finally out of chances.
They fouled guard Casey Kasperbauer and he hit both shots, sending South Dakota to the 85-81 victory in two overtimes and Minnesota to a stunning home-court defeat opposite a middle-of-the-pack Summit League squad with one of Division I’s worst defenses and no starters taller than 6-8.
It was the Gophers’ first defeat vs a “guarantee game” opponent — schools big programs pay to host — since Dec. 9, 2006, when the Gophers fell to Arkansas-Little Rock, and it ended a 47-game non-conference winning streak at home dating to a loss to Virginia in November 2010, the second-longest such streak in the nation.
“Over the years, there have been a few close ones but coming out a little lackadaisical never caught up to us over my last three years,” senior Joey King said. “It caught up with us today.”
The Gophers shot 35.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times. But after falling behind by 10 with 11:58 left in regulation, Minnesota looked capable of bouncing back.
Fueled by Dorsey’s back-breaking speed and acrobatic finishes, the Gophers ignited an 11-0 run, briefly taking a 51-50 lead with 6:35 left in the second.
But four missed free throws in 11 trips in that span left the door open for South Dakota — which, with four Minnesotans on the roster, was salivating for an upset. Wayzata’s Eric Robertson, playing in front of a crowd sprinkled with South Dakota red, scored seven consecutive points to put the Coyotes back up 57-55 with 1:11 left.
“Right when we found out we had the game on the schedule, I was excited,” said Robertson, who scored 16 points. “I was looking forward to this more than any other.”
Minnesota was still down 2 with 10 seconds left when Jordan Murphy reached up and tipped in the team’s third offensive rebound just before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
Given second — and even third lives, however, the Gophers’ same defensive mistakes and offensive shortcomings bit them again.
Minnesota, after taking a 67-61 lead in the first extra session, allowed South Dakota to launch another big run, this time 6-0 to force double overtime. In the final period, Murphy (a game-high 19 points and 17 rebounds) fouled out with 4:20 to go and the Gophers couldn’t generate enough without him.
“It was tough,” Murphy said. “Having four fouls and being in there, you have to make wise decisions. And obviously I didn’t because I fouled out.”
Charles Buggs hit a layup to give Minnesota the 80-79 lead with 51 seconds to go. But Tre Burnette responded with a layup of his own, and Kasperbauer hit a pair of free throws with 7.2 seconds left to all but seal the victory, South Dakota’s first vs. a Power Five team since transitioning to Division I in 2009.
As the buzzer sounded, the Coyotes swarmed to center court, cheering and pumping their fists.
“They deserved it,” a tight-lipped Richard Pitino said after the game. “We did not.”