As last season's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Reggie Lynch typically thinks about blocking shots first, second and third — and everything else later.

But on a night when all five Gophers starters were making shots, he became a force on both ends of the court.

Lynch came a block short of Minnesota's first triple-double since Mychal Thompson's against Ohio State in 1976 in a 107-81 victory against Niagara at Williams Arena. He matched career highs with 18 points and 12 rebounds and had nine blocks in front of an announced crowd of 10,093.

Lynch also had a career-high six assists, including five in the first half.

"The biggest miracle of them all was the six assists," Gophers coach Richard Pitino joked. "I don't know how the heck he did that."

It was all in good fun after the win, but what seemed like a one-sided affair in the final box was far from it.

After coming back from a 10-point first-half deficit, the Gophers (3-0) saw a 17-point lead cut to 68-66 after James Towns' jumper capped a 20-5 run, which included 14 straight Niagara points.

Minnesota's 27-4 run sealed it. Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy matched Lynch with a team-high 18 points. Nate Mason had 15 points and 11 assists, and Dupree McBrayer added 13 points. The five starters combined for 82 points.

"We can't let teams go on runs like that," Lynch said. "But we responded the right way, found a way to share the ball and play together, and we had a nice victory down the stretch."

The Gophers set a school record with 32 assists Wednesday on just four turnovers. But they weren't immune to a letdown after an impressive 86-74 win at Providence on Monday.

For the first time this season, the Gophers found themselves trailing big in the first half, facing a 25-15 deficit against a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opponent that won only 10 games all last season.

Coffey sensed his teammates desperately needed a first-half spark offensively, so he decided to take over the game with 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting at one point to ignite a 33-13 run.

That helped offset Murphy's quiet first half. The Big Ten's leading scorer, who averaged 29 points through the first two games, had just two points on 1-for-3 shooting.

"Just having all those weapons and knowing anyone can have a really good game on any given day," Murphy said. "We're just hard to guard right now."

For a team that finished last season as arguably the Big Ten's best defensively, the Gophers looked like an offensive juggernaut against Niagara with their second-highest-scoring game against a Division I opponent since 2000.

"Offense seems ahead of the defense," said Pitino, whose team has given up 25 threes in two home games. "I'd like to have them both. I think our defense has got to improve."

Kahlil Dukes had 26 points and Matt Scott added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Niagara. The Purple Eagles (1-1) went 11-for-27 from beyond the arc and hung close on the boards 48-44.

The Gophers, who played the first of three straight home games, struggled defending the three-point line, but Lynch made it almost impossible to get off clean shots in the paint.

"[Pitino] told me with three minutes left I had nine blocks and could get a triple-double," Lynch said. "He told me he would give me a couple possessions to get it, but when I went in they just shot threes. I never got the chance. But they probably got the message."