MINNEAPOLIS — UNO pushed another power-conference program to the finish Friday night, but fell 92-79 at Minnesota.
The Mavericks drained 9 of their first 13 attempts from 3-point range and capped the first half with their 10th 3 — a buzzer-beater by Caleb Steffensmeier that tied the game 44-44.
But with UNO battling foul trouble that affected two of its three inside players, the Gophers made an early second-half run, withstood another Mav charge, then scored the game's final nine points while keeping UNO scoreless for the final 3:12 in front of 11,890 at Williams Arena.
“We showed a lot of resilience, and with the foul trouble we had some guys get extended minutes in different positions, but they performed well,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said. “We battled.”
The Mavs appeared to have weathered their foul problems when John Karhoff and Mike Rostampour returned with 4:20 left and their team trailing 83-75. Rostampour's high-arching jumper from the baseline made it 83-77 with 3:38 to go, and an unforced traveling on the Gophers gave the ball back to UNO and led to Devin Patterson's drive and layup that made it 83-79 with 3:12 left.
“If we get a couple of stops there, who knows?” Hansen said.
But the Mavs didn't score again.
DeAndre Mathieu's pullup in the lane gave Minnesota a six-point lead, then Patterson misfired on a 3. Minnesota extended its lead to 87-79 as Elliott Eliason scored in the low post with 2:07 to go. CJ Carter followed with a 3-point miss, and the Gophers cashed in with an Andre Hollins free throw with 1:52 left to make it 88-79. Minnesota eventually hit four more free throws to seal it.
UNO (8-4) lost for the second time to a Big Ten team, having also lost by eight points at Iowa in the second game of the season. The Mavs' other losses have come by three points at UNLV and by eight points to Drake. UNO collected $340,000 in guarantees for those four games, including $85,000 from Minnesota.
The Gophers (10-2) were led by a terrific performance from Mathieu, the jet-quick point guard who is one of few who have shown the ability to match counterpart Patterson stride for stride.
Mathieu scored 27 points while making 9 of 11 shots from the field and 8 of 10 from the foul line. Malik Smith added 19 off the bench while hitting 5 of 8 from 3-point range, and Andre Hollins added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Austin Hollins had 10 points and six assists, and Eliason, a center from Chadron, Neb., had 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals for the Gophers.
Hansen said Mathieu and the unrelated Hollinses were key.
“That's the first time all season where we played someone who put three guards on the floor at the same time who could all pressure us,” Hansen said. “Most games, I think our guards have been better, but tonight we faced a team who matched us and at the end of the day probably made a few more plays than we did.”
UNO got 15 points each from Patterson, Alex Phillips and Carter, plus 11 points from guard Marcus Tyus. Phillips, after hitting four key 3-pointers in last Saturday's win at Nevada, hit four more while scoring 13 first-half points. Patterson had a team-high six rebounds and also added four assists.
But after going 10 for 16 from 3-point range in the first half, the Mavs went 0 for 8 in the final 20 minutes.
“I certainly didn't think we'd make 10 again in the second half, but I thought we'd make our share,” Hansen said. “And if we go 3 for 8, or even 2 for 8, which we're very capable of, that might have changed the way the game played out. I thought about six of those eight were really good looks.”
UNO's starting 6-foot-8 tandem of Karhoff and Rostampour, who combined for 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting in a combined 42 minutes, sat out stretches of each half because of foul trouble. And both came out early in the second half.
“Our guys did a good job without them in there in the first half, playing in odd positions that put them out of their comfort zone,” Hansen said. “I think it probably hurt us more the second half than the first half.”
Minnesota began pulling away and led 69-58 with 12:35 to go after five quick points from Smith. But the Mavs clawed back, with six points from Justin Simmons, a Matt Hagerbaumer dunk and a Patterson jumper making up a 10-2 run that made it 71-68.
UNO even had the chance to tie the game, but Phillips stepped on the baseline while grabbing a defensive rebound, and Smith hit a 3 on the ensuing possession.
“We've done that. We've been able to grind it out,” Hansen said. “We came back against UNLV and came back against Drake. We've been resilient. I like our group in that regard. It's a great quality to have in a basketball team.”