Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 27, 2012
(AP) Freshman guard Andre Hollins scored 20 points, including five in overtime, and short-handed Minnesota beat Washington 68-67 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT title game. With the shot clock winding down and the Golden Gophers clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, Hollins banked in an off-balance shot to put Minnesota up 68-65. The sixth-seeded Golden Gophers (23-14) will face No. 3 seed Stanford in Thursday's title game at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinal beat Massachusetts in the first semifinal. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and interactive NIT bracket and get Tom Dienhart's analysis in this post.
TOM DIENHART'S TAKE
Key player: Rodney Williams continued his hot streak, notching 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. It all started in an overtime loss to Michigan in the Big Ten tourney, when Williams tallied 20 points. In the previous three NIT games, the junior forward scored 21 vs. LaSalle; 21 against Miami (Fla.); 24 vs. Middle Tennessee. And hat?s off to freshman guard Dre Hollins, who continues to cap an impressive freshman season. He scored a team-high 20 points and continued to be deadly from the free-throw line by hitting 7-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Key number: 36.6, Washington?s field-goal percentage. The Huskies hit just 26-of-71 shots, with star guard Terrence Ross hitting only 7-of-19. Credit Minnesota?s defense. And it was that defense that helped the Golden Gophers overcome 18 turnovers and 3-of-12 shooting from 3-point range.
What?s next for Minnesota: The Gophers? improbable roll continues into the NIT title game vs. No. 3 seed Stanford (which beat UMass) after knocking off the Pac-12 regular-season champions in one of the Gophers? most impressive wins of the season. Minnesota won five of six entering the NIT semifinals vs. the Huskies after losing six in a row. The win streak is now at four, as Minnesota aims for its first NIT crown since Voshon Lenard led the Gophers? past Georgetown in the 1993 championship game.
Read our half-by-half recaps powered by Narrative Science:
FINAL: Andre Hollins scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds and Rodney Williams added 18 points and 10 boards to lead Minnesota to the NIT title game with a 68-67 overtime victory over Washington on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Hollins carried the offensive load for Minnesota (23-14), finishing with five assists. Washington (24-11) shot 37 percent (26-of-71) from the field. Austin Hollins shot 5-of-8 from the field and scored 12 points for the Golden Gophers. Darnell Gant scored 12 points, yanked down 10 rebounds, and knocked down 5-of-7 shot attempts for Washington. The Huskies also got double-digit games from Terrence Ross (21) and C.J. Wilcox (12). Minnesota never trailed in the game and its largest lead was 15, which came late in the first.
HALFTIME: Minnesota took full advantage of the stellar combination of Rodney Williams and Austin Hollins, ending the first half against Washington up 38-26. Williams scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds, and shot 5-of-7 from the field, while Hollins scored seven points, grabbed three rebounds, and shot 3-of-4 from the field. The Golden Gophers are dominating the rebounding battle so far, with a 21-14 margin. Minnesota led by as many as 15 points in the first half and never trailed. Terrence Ross and Darnell Gant carried the Huskies in the first half with 20 of their team's 26 total points. Ross has scored 14 and Gant has added six. The Golden Gophers shared the ball, finishing with 10 assists on 16 field goals in the first half. Seven Minnesota players scored in the half.