Gophers battle, beat Penn State 77-72 in OT

Amir Coffey #5 celebrates after hitting a shot and being fouled against the Penn State Nittany Lions at the United Center on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Minnesota defeated Penn State 77-72. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

There’s still work to do in the Big Ten Tournament, but the Gophers solidified a trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 77-72 win over Penn State Thursday night.

The win locks up an at-large bid for the Gophers on Selection Sunday. Minnesota trailed 59-51 with a little more than four minutes to play, then went on an 10-2 run to force overtime. Amir Coffey struggled offensively until the last six minutes of regulation, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the last 11 minutes of the game. Coffey scored 12 in overtime to give Minnesota the lift it badly needed.

Dupree McBrayer played one of his best games of the season with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers, in 44 minutes. Jordan Murphy finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and kept the Gophers in the game in the first half with 10 points.

McBrayer hit a fade away jumper late in regulation to tie the game 61-61, and Coffey missed an open but long 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left that could’ve won the game.

Coffey converted a three-point play to give Minnesota a 69-66 lead in overtime, then hit a pair of free throws for a 71-66 advantage. The Gophers had the lead the rest of overtime. Coffey finished 6-of-17 shooting from the field, but was 10-of-11 at the free throw line, including 7-of-8 in overtime.

After a slow start offensively, the Gophers shot nearly 44 percent from the field in the win. They held the Nittany Lions to 42 percent shooting despite allowing 13 offensive rebounds. Lamar Stevens led all scorers with 24 points, but shot 9-of-25 from the field. The Gophers struggled to make shots in the first half, with Coffey and Murphy shooting a combined 3-of-14 from the field. They stayed close by shooting 11-of-13 at the free-throw line.

Daniel Oturu added 10 points for the Gophers, who had four scorers in double figures.

Minnesota (20-12) faces No. 2 seed Purdue Thursday night in the Big Ten Quarterfinals. Regardless of what transpires the rest of the conference tournament, the Gophers can now enjoy Selection Sunday. They’ll be dancing, somewhere.