Turn on a dime: Westbrook scores Gophers’ last 10
Draining. Heartbreaking. Frustrating. Disappointing. Where do you start?
The Gophers came back to beat the Badgers again, using a familiar foil to lead a rally from a five-point deficit in the final 2 minutes to score a 51-46 victory it desperately needed to enhance its NCAA tournament chances.
Junior guard Lawrence Westbrook, who burned the Badgers for 29 points when Minnesota came back from 14 points down to beat UW in January, scored the final 10 points of the game.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, didn’t score a point during the final 2 minutes 49 seconds and let what would have been a quality victory slip through its fingers.
“The energy it took for us to just get into the game and get going, I think it took its toll at the end,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “But I like the way they fought. I saw some things . . . A lot of grit out there on both sides.”
The Badgers dropped to 18-11 and 9-8 in the Big Ten. Senior Marcus Landry scored 18 points and hit 4 threes for Wisconsin. Sophomore Jon Leuer added 11 points, and junior Trevon Hughes finished with 10 points and four assists.
Hughes’ play down the stretch nearly allowed the Badgers to leave town with a victory, but with 4.2 seconds left, he was unable to catch Tim Jarmusz’s inbounds pass—the ball hit off his hands and out of bounds—and the Badgers went down without getting a chance to force overtime.
“I’ve got to catch that one,” Hughes said. “I just took my eyes off it. I should have kept my eye on it.”
That play put the final nail in the Badgers’ coffin.
By that point, however, Westbrook had already dug the grave.
Hughes’ drive had pushed the UW lead to 45-41 and he made one of two free throws with 2:49 left to give the Badgers a five-point lead.
Landry missed a three that would have added to that lead, and Westbrook scored in transition to make it a one-possession game.
After Hughes couldn’t convert on a drive and Krabbenhoft missed the follow, Westbrook made the Badgers pay with another drive in the lane. The basket cut Wisconsin’s lead to 46-45 with 1:11 to play.
Another miss by Hughes, this one from three-point range, gave Westbrook a chance to push it up the floor. He drew a foul on Jordan Taylor with 29 seconds left and sank the first of two free throws to tie the game.
And after a timeout, he made the second to put the Badgers’ in a hole.
“Westbrook was going to have to throw up an unbelievable shot and we bailed him out,” Ryan said. “That was a huge possession right there. ”But you’ve got to learn from it.“
That set up a wild finish with Landry missing a three. After a Taylor rebound, Hughes couldn’t connect. Krabbenhoft got the rebound along the baseline but couldn’t maintain his balance and fired a pass out of bounds with 5.3 seconds to play.
Minnesota got its inbounds pass to Westbrook, whom Taylor fouled. Westbrook then hit both his attempts to give the Gophers a 49-46 lead.
It turned out to be all the Gophers would need for the victory.
”It feels good because Wisconsin has been killing since I’ve been here,“ Westbrook said. ”This game was really big and I’m happy for Jon (Williams) and Jamal (Abu-Shamala) because they’re seniors and we get to send them out on a good note.
“I don’t know the last time seniors have been able to finish off their careers by sweeping the Badgers.”
For the record, the last time Minnesota (21-8, 9-8) swept Wisconsin was the 1993-’94 season.
The loss spoiled what could have been a nice comeback victory for UW and put it in a three-way tie for fifth-place in the Big Ten with the Gophers and Ohio State.
Wisconsin overcame 25% shooting and an 11-point deficit in the first half to lead by five points with 2 minutes 49 seconds to play.
Hughes and Landry played very well during that rally. Landry, who hit four of seven three-pointers, had 12 of his points in the second half.
With less than eight minutes left, Hughes drove the lane and dished to Landry for a layup to give the Badgers their first lead. On UW’s next possession, he drove the lane and missed but created so much attention that Landry was able to sweep in and tip in the miss to give the Badgers a 41-38 lead with 5:25 to play.
Hughes added two more free throws with 4:40 remaining after a foul he drew by hustling after Leuer’s miss.
Johnson hit one of two from the line with 4:14 left to make it a two-point game, but Hughes’ drive pushed the UW lead to 45-41 and he made one of two free throws with 2:49 left to give the Badgers the five-point lead.