Hoffarber, Johnson lead Gopher youngsters past UC Riverside 75-38
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Blake Hoffarber had 13 points and four steals and Damian Johnson had 12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals for Minnesota, which breezed by UC Riverside 75-38 on Saturday afternoon and nearly set a school record for fewest points allowed.
Lawrence McKenzie had 18 points, but this victory for the Gophers (4-1) was all about their young players. Jonathan Williams added three blocks.
Larry Cunningham, UC Riverside’s only senior, led the Highlanders (2-5) with 14 points. They committed 21 turnovers and made it to the free-throw line only eight times.
Though this was one of the weakest opponents Minnesota will play, the 38 points scored by UC Riverside were one more than the Gophers’ all-time-low opponent record of 37—last done in 1991 against Arizona State.
The Gophers took their first loss earlier this week at Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a game in which coach Tubby Smith stuck his three seniors and three top scorers—McKenzie, Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson—on the bench early in the second half to express his disappointment in them.
Though McKenzie made five of Minnesota’s 12 shots from 3-point range, Coleman committed three fouls in limited action and finished with only six points. Tollackson threw the ball away on a possession early in the second half, and Smith yanked him for Williams.
Tollackson, who leads Minnesota with 11 points per game, finished with 10 points and five rebounds, but went only 4-for-10 from the floor against this undersized opponent.
The Gophers used a 19-2 run over the last 5 1/2 minutes of the first half to pull comfortably away. Hoffarber made three 3-pointers, and McKenzie and Abu-Shamala had two apiece before halftime. The school record for 3-pointers in a game is 16, set by the 2000-01 squad against Michigan State.
This was the first meeting between Minnesota and UC Riverside, which moved to Division I in the 2000-01 season. The Gophers and Highlanders women’s teams played here last month, with Minnesota winning 57-49.
UC Riverside lost to Texas Tech and No. 19 Gonzaga last month, but also was beaten by Texas Arlington and Eastern Washington. The Highlanders have wins over Idaho, by one point, and Hope International, an NAIA school. In preseason polls by coaches and media, UC Riverside was picked to finish last in the nine-team Big West Conference.