Second-Half Heroics Help Wolverines Top Gophers

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With a 10-4 scoring advantage in the final two minutes and a last-second basket by Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep. [N.H.]), the University of Michigan men's basketball team beat Minnesota 71-69 on Saturday (Jan. 19) in Crisler Arena. With the win, the Wolverines (7-8) improved to 3-3 in Big Ten Conference play and avenged last week's 90-82 loss to the Gophers (10-7, 3-3 Big Ten) in Minneapolis (Jan. 9).

Michigan received strong performances from LaVell Blanchard (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS), who led all scorers with 20 points; Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS), who scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half; and Robinson, who posted his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and tied a career high with six assists. The Golden Gophers were led by 17 points from Michael Bauer and received a 14-point, nine-rebound performance from Dusty Rychart.

The Wolverine comeback win began inside of two minutes remaining. Three-pointers by Avery Queen (Moreno Valley, Calif./Redemption Christian Academy [N.Y.]) and Dommanic Ingerson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS) helped Michigan tie the score at 67. Minnesota's next possession with thwarted by a key block and defensive rebound by Chuck Bailey (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS), who then dumped it down low to Young, but the ball was deflected out of bounds by a Minnesota defender.

With five seconds left on the shot clock, Queen inbounded the pass to Bailey at the top of the key. Bailey took one dribble into the lane and dumped the ball to Young, who slammed the ball home to give the Wolverines a 69-67 lead with 17 seconds remaining. After a Kevin Burleson field goal tied the score with 0:07 left, Michigan inbounded the ball to Queen, who crossed mid-court before feeding Robinson. Robinson cut one dribble into the lane and released a running floater that fell in off the backboard, giving Michigan the two-point win.

The Wolverines began the game sporting a new-look lineup, featuring Bailey's first career start, in an effort to create a better offensive rhythm, but fell to yet another early deficit, trailing Minnesota 9-2 after the first four minutes. With a variety of unforced errors on the offensive end, Michigan did not make a basket from the field until 14:24, when Ingerson connected for three to made the score 11-7 Gophers. That sparked a 10-0 run by the Wolverines that featured a Blanchard three at 12:12 and several defensive stops in establishing Michigan's first lead since the game's opening minutes, 14-11.

Minnesota then embarked on a 9-2 run of its own, taking advantage of a Wolverine letdown of nearly six minutes. A Young block at 6:23 sparked the Maize and Blue's intensity, leading to a three-point play by Robinson to bring Michigan within one, 20-19, at 6:03. Struggling to maintain their intensity at times, the Wolverines fought hard on the offensive side of the court, punctuated by Young's first field goal of the game -- a dunk over two Gopher defenders at 4:23 -- to make up for its defensive mistakes and keep Minnesota within reach, 27-24.

A 4-0 mini-run from Blanchard -- a mid-range jumper and a dunk after a Queen dish -- put Michigan in the lead 28-27 at 2:05, only for Minnesota to take it right back in transition before the two teams traded defensive stops as the half came to a close.

The Wolverines started the second half energized after an inconsistent first frame, hitting their first three shots to take a 35-29 lead. Michigan stretched its early start into an 11-4 run over five minutes, led by six Young points. The Gophers would not disappear despite Michigan's strong start, tying the game at 42 with a field goal by Bauer at 13:22.

With an 11-2 stretch, highlighted by Travarus Bennett's trey to put the Gophers up 48-45 at 12:00, Minnesota capitalized on a quieted Michigan offense and established a seven-point cushion inside the seven-minute mark.

Bauer's third three-pointer of the afternoon at 6:11 put Minnesota ahead by 10, 57-47, the Gophers' largest lead of the game, prompting a Michigan timeout. In need of a basket after being held to only one field goal in seven minutes, Ingerson converted a runner in the lane to reignite the Wolverine offense. A three-point play by Young, who was fed inside by Robinson, furthered an 8-2 run that brought Michigan back within five. The teams traded buckets over the next several minutes, as the Wolverines, without Blanchard, who fouled out at 4:13, kept themselves within two possessions of the Gophers before the final game-winning surge.

The Wolverines will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on Ohio State on Thursday (Jan. 24, 7 p.m.) in a nationally televised matchup on ESPN.

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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