The 20 point performance from sophomore guard Nate Mason Jr. was not enough as the Minnesota Gophers lost to the Temple Owls 75-70 in the quarterfinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off On Thursday afternoon.
The NCAA is looking to have officials call the games a lot differently in 2015, which has led to an uptick in free throw attempts in games across the nation. In this contest between members of the Big Ten and the American Athletic Conference, it was no different. The Gophers shot 32 free throws and were actually in the bonus with 14:30 minutes remaining in the second half but could not take advantage of the opportunity for free points from the line. Outside of Mason’s 12 attempts no other Minnesota player attempted more than four shots from the line.
In addition to restricting other Minnesota players to make it to the charity stripe, Temple did a good job of limiting the Gophers top scores down the stretch. Carlos Morris (16 points) and Bakary Konate (11 points) were neutralized late in the second half and outside of two free throws from Morris, did not score the final eight minutes of the game.
One thing Coach Richard Pitino will have to look to rectify before the next game of the tournament is turnovers and offensive rebounds allowed. The Gophers had 11 turnovers on the afternoon and many were unforced errors like stepping on the inbounds line. But when you have seven freshman and sophomores in your rotation you have to expect a high learning curve.
As far as the rebounding the team did a good job defensively at times but it was a key offensive rebound by Jaylen Bond of Temple with 44 seconds remaining and Minnesota looking to cut into the 71-66 lead that was the team’s ultimate undoing.
Despite the loss Minnesota still has an opportunity to grow from their time in Puerto Rico as the Gophers will face the loser of the Butler vs. Missouri State game tomorrow at 11:30 AM ET