After Minnesota’s Reggie Lynch frustrated Penn State all game and recorded another block late in the second half Saturday, the crowd chanted his name.
Lynch finished with a career-high 11 blocks to help the Golden Gophers to an 81-71 win over Penn State at Williams Arena.
He had six blocks in the first half as the Golden Gophers held Penn State to 30.6 percent shooting and built an 11-point lead. Minnesota put together an efficient offensive performance to keep the Nittany Lions at arm’s length in the final 20 minutes.
Tony Carr finished with 20 points and seven assists for the Nittany Lions (14-15, 6-10 Big Ten), who suffered their third straight loss.
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Nate Mason scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half to help Minnesota (22-7, 10-6) take control. Mason also had 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jordan Murphy finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Golden Gophers.
Lynch, the Big Ten’s leading shot blocker, dominated on the defensive end without committing a foul.
“The zero fouls is more impressive,” Lynch told reporters during the postgame press conference. “I know I can get 11 blocks. It’s just whether they want to tally it up. It was very good for me and for the team that I stayed out of foul trouble. It’s important that I stay on the floor and just have a presence at the rim.”
With Penn State trying to make a late push, Lynch rejected a Shep Garner layup attempt to protect an 11-point lead. After a Lynch dunk, Akeem Springs hit a 3-pointer to give the Golden Gophers their largest lead of the game at 77-61 with 4:10 remaining.
Minnesota shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half to close out the win. Dupree McBrayer scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half for the Golden Gophers, who extended their winning streak to seven games.
“Offensively we’re getting comfortable with where we’re at,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said at the postgame press conference. “I think it’s clear that guys are playing their best basketball.”
Lamar Stevens and Payton Banks each had 11 points for Penn State, and Garner added 10.
The Nittany Lions shot 35.5 percent from the field for the game.
“Our shots stopped falling and we just couldn’t get any stops on defense,” Carr said. “They were clicking on all cylinders with Mason coming off the ball screens and with Lynch being down low and they had shooters all around them, so we just couldn’t get no stops.”
Notes: Carr now has 119 assists this season, setting the program’s freshman single-season record previously owned by Ben Luber (114 in 2004). ... The Nittany Lions finished 7 for 21 from 3-point range. ... Penn State finished with 10 assists and zero turnovers in the second half and finished with 16 assists and five turnovers in the game. ... Penn State hosts its final home game of the regular season against Ohio State at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.