Dawson Garcia returns, but Gophers fall to Penn State
Garcia returned from a foot injury to score a team-high 23 points for Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS — Dawson Garcia was back for the Minnesota men’s basketball team on Saturday, and his presence made a big difference for the Gophers.
Unfortunately for the Gophers, Garcia’s injured right foot didn’t fully cooperate in a 76-69 loss at Williams Arena, Minnesota’s ninth in a row, which knocks the team down to 7-17 overall, 1-13 in Big Ten play.
Garcia, the Gophers’ leading scorer and rebounder, played in his first game since bruising a bone in his right foot Jan. 22 at Michigan, and the 6-foot-11 forward from Savage was terrific, finishing with 23 points and seven rebounds.
But Garcia was noticeably wobbly on the foot, twice pulled from the game after falling in traffic underneath the basket. Each time, Penn State answered by expanding its lead — an 8-0 run that made it 37-29 with 4:21 left in the first half, and consecutive baskets to make it 59-52 with 9:29 left in the second half.
Pharrel Payne, a freshman forward from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, kept the Gophers alive in the second half, scoring 10 of the Gophers’ 12 points as they pulled within 67-64 on his three-point play with 4:25 remaining. But that was as close as they’d get.
Payne finished with 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Jalen Pickett led all scorers with 32 points for Penn State (16-11, 7-9). He hit four of the Nittany Lions’ 10 3-pointers.
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