There’s something about Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.
No. 12 Minnesota dropped its third straight game to Northwestern, 55-48 — its fifth straight loss at the Wildcats’ arena dating back to 2008.
Trevor Mbakwe recorded his fourth-straight double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds in the losing effort.
The Gophers took a 27-24 lead into halftime, but they collapsed in the second half as they failed to find a secondary scorer to Mbakwe.
Mbakwe was the only Gophers player to score in double figures.
The Wildcats’ tough 1-3-1 zone defense held Minnesota to a Big Ten-season low 48 points.
Austin Hollins fouled out with 11:47 left and Minnesota up 37-36, and it all unraveled from there.
Northwestern went on an 18-5 run in the second half and stifled any attempt at a Gophers comeback.
Despite the loss, Minnesota avoided its biggest scare of the night — a late injury to Mbakwe.
The sixth-year senior slammed onto the floor with 1:44 left, landing on his right arm as he tipped in a missed layup by Rodney Williams.
Mbakwe laid there for a few minutes and remained on the bench for the rest of the game, but his injury did not appear to be serious.
Even with Mbakwe’s impressive stat line, the sixth-year senior shot 2-for-8 from the charity stripe and contributed to his team’s struggles at the line.
The Gophers shot 7-for-17 in free throws. They’ve combined to shoot 55 percent in their past two games — losses to Michigan and Northwestern.
Minnesota’s lackluster bench play continued, as senior guard Julian Welch contributed all seven of the Gophers’ bench points. Welch shot 3-for-11 from the field and tied Williams with the most shot attempts on the team.
Williams continued his shooting slump, shooting 3-for-11. The senior co-captain has combined to shoot 7-for-23 in the two previous losses.
Minnesota handed the Wildcats their first home victory of the Big Ten season. Northwestern is now 1-3 at home, and the Gophers are 1-2 on the road.
The Gophers head to Madison, Wis., to play the Badgers on Saturday.
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