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Mar 19, 2024 11:30 pm

Late free throws lift Minnesota over Butler in NIT

Minnesota Butler

Dawson Garcia scored 25 points and Elijah Hawkins hit two free throws with five seconds left to boost visiting Minnesota to a 73-72 win against Butler on Tuesday in an NIT first-round game in Indianapolis.

Minnesota (19-14) advanced to face the winner of Wednesday’s game between top-seeded Indiana State and SMU on Saturday or Sunday.

Fourth-seeded Butler (18-15) saw its season end after allowing the Golden Gophers to close the game on an 11-5 run.

Hawkins, who had 11 points and 15 assists, accounted for the final margin with his two free throws. He was fouled moments after Butler committed a turnover while up by one point.

Pharrel Payne (11 points), Cam Christie (10) and Parker Fox (10) followed in double figures.

Jahmyl Telfort paced the Bulldogs with 25 points, but his step-back jumper in the closing seconds was no good. Posh Alexander and DJ Davis added 13 points each for Butler.

The Bulldogs surged ahead 51-44 on Telfort’s fastbreak layup with 14:41 to play, but the Golden Gophers responded with treys from Mike Mitchell Jr. and Christie on the next two possessions. Garcia’s layup put Minnesota on top 54-53 with 11:02 to play before Butler responded with the next seven points — only to see the Golden Gophers answer with a 6-0 run.

Butler retook the advantage on Pierre Brooks’ layup on the ensuing possession and didn’t relinquish it until the closing seconds. A 5-0 Gophers run capped by Garcia’s second-chance layup tied the game at 67 with 2:07 left, but Davis put the Bulldogs ahead once more with a 3 on the next possession.

Garcia’s layup brought Minnesota to within 72-71 with 22 seconds left.

Butler led 38-36 at the break. Both teams went 15-for-28 (53.6 percent) in the first 20 minutes, with the Bulldogs committing seven turnovers to six for the Golden Gophers.

Telfort led all scorers with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including makes on both of his attempts from long range. Payne had 10 points for Minnesota, including two on an alley-oop from Hawkins out of a timeout just before halftime.

–Field Level Media

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