Minnesota 70, North Dakota St. 57
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Vincent Grier had 21 points, seven rebounds and four steals to lead Minnesota to a 70-57 victory over North Dakota State on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Moe Hargrow added 14 points and seven assists for the Golden Gophers (1-0), who had 14 steals and scored 24 points off turnovers.
Mike Nelson led the Bison with 15 points and Brett Winkelman had 12 rebounds.
With seven players on their roster from Minnesota, the Bison (0-1) played inspired basketball in the early going.
North Dakota State dominated the first seven minutes, out-hustling, out-shooting and out-rebounding the more athletic Gophers.
Nelson’s 3-pointer gave the Bison a 14-5 lead just over six minutes into the game, but that’s where the party ended.
Turnovers, poor shooting and Grier did them in.
The Gophers went on a 22-4 run over the next eight minutes, highlighted by pair of highlight-reel drives by Grier, who was held without a field goal for the first 13:30 before he took over the game.
He scored 11 points in the final 7:30 of the first half, including a dazzling alley-oop from Hargrow. The Gophers broke out on a two-on-one, and Hargrow lofted the pass to Grier, who leaped, grabbed the ball with one hand and dunked over the 6-foot-8 Tom Lunde.
The Bison had trouble responding.
After hitting six of their first nine shots to take the early lead, they made just one of their next 12 shots to fall behind 31-21.
The Bison, who are still in the process of making the jump from Division II to Division I, started three freshmen, and the inexperience showed.
North Dakota State committed 26 turnovers and seemed to come unglued after officials failed to call a goaltending violation on the Gophers early in the first half.
One of those freshmen, Ben Woodside, picked up three fouls in the with 12:35 to play in the first half.
The Bison were a different team with the Albert Lea, Minn., native on the floor. He started the second half with two three-point plays to cut Minnesota’s lead to 36-34.
But Woodside missed two free throws a few minutes later, and a 12-2 run by the Gophers essentially ended the threat.
The Gophers still have plenty to work on, though. They were out-rebounded 34-30 and made just 14 of their 23 foul shots.