Michigan gets 'tough breaks,' falls in overtime
Minneapolis — Same story, different arena.
Michigan rolled into Minnesota Sunday on a three-game winning streak with its sights set on boosting its 1-6 mark in true road games and NCAA Tournament resume.
But typical of its road games this season, the Wolverines held a second-half lead and couldn’t prevail.
This time, poor free-throw shooting and foul trouble were the difference as Michigan let a golden opportunity slip away in an 83-78 overtime loss at Williams Arena.
Senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. scored 16 and had a chance to send it to double overtime, but his potential tying 3-pointer rimmed out with three seconds left for Michigan (17-10, 7-7 Big Ten), which finished 9-for-18 from the free-throw line, was whistled for 27 fouls and sent Minnesota to the stripe 41 times.
"Very uncharacteristic of us to go 9-for-18 from the foul line and that was a big point in the game,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Got a lot of tough breaks in the game, really tough breaks.
“I'm glad the way we fought back because we could've gave up after some things went their way. We could've gave up. We stayed in there and made enough shots and I think Derrick's shot is in at the buzzer. It's like down, it's down. It would've been great to still be out there playing.”
After D.J. Wilson (16 points) hit a 30-footer with two seconds left in regulation to tie it at 72 and force overtime, Michigan couldn’t carry the momentum over. It opened the extra session with back-to-back turnovers from Moritz Wagner (15 points) and Walton and Minnesota took advantage, using a layup from Nate Mason (13 points) layup to take a 74-72 lead with 3:38 left.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (14 points) made a 3-pointer to put Michigan up, 75-74, 20 seconds later but that’s the last time the Wolverines would lead.
Jordan Murphy (16 points, 15 rebounds) threw down a putback slam to give Minnesota (20-7, 8-6) a one-point lead and Abdur-Rahkman missed two free throws that could’ve put Michigan back on top with 1:40 remaining.
Amir Coffey added two free throws and Mason split a pair to give Minnesota a 79-75 advantage with 26 seconds left, but Wilson gave the Wolverines hope by knocking down another deep 3-pointer to cut it to 79-78 with 11 seconds left.
After Coffey hit two more free throws to make it a three-point game with eight seconds left, Michigan had one last chance. Walton got a clean look on a 3-point attempt but it rolled off the rim and Minnesota secured the rebound and its first win over Michigan since Jan. 22, 2011.
“Everybody on the team loves the moment and the moment was there, so everybody wants to step into it,” Walton said. “That's pretty much all I can say and couldn't be any more happy for D.J. for making those two big shots to even give us a fighting chance after so much didn't go our way tonight.”
Overtime didn’t seem like an option after everything started to unravel for the Wolverines late in the second half. Trailing 58-57 with 4:39 left, the Michigan bench was called for a technical foul after Mark Donnal was whistled for a blocking foul with Minnesota in the double bonus. The Golden Gophers promptly made all four free throws to pull ahead, 62-57.
“How do I put this and not throw anybody under the bus? It wasn't on me,” Beilein said of the technical.
Minnesota extended its lead to seven with a Murphy dunk before Walton answered with a 3-pointer from the corner to cut it to 64-60 at the 3:17 mark and keep Michigan in it.
After Mason converted a four-point play to give Minnesota its largest lead at 68-60, Michigan cut the deficit in half as Walton and Wagner each came up with a steal and fast-break basket to make it 68-64 with 1:50 to go.
The Wolverines continued to show no quit as Walton’s three-point play trimmed it to 70-67 with 1:04 remaining.
Wilson hit a hook to make it a one-point game with 14 seconds left and followed with his tying 3-pointer from way downtown off a broken play to give Michigan a shot to pick up an elusive signature win on the road.
“We knew that we had a good chance going into overtime and getting this win,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “We just didn't pull it off.
“I think we responded well. We were down by seven points with like a minute left and we battled back to send it into overtime, so it's good to see us fight and fight till the end.”