CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Matthew Mayer scored 22 points and Illinois handed Minnesota its 10th straight loss with a 78-69 victory on Monday night.
Mayer made 7 of 14 shots with two 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds for the Fighting Illini (18-9, 9-7 Big Ten Conference), who snapped a two-game skid. Jayden Epps sank 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and scored 17. Coleman Hawkins added 16 points and seven boards, while Dain Dainja scored 12. RJ Melendez pitched in with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Jamison Battle scored a season-high 31 for the Golden Gophers (7-18, 1-14). Battle hit 11 of 20 shots with four 3-pointers, adding six rebounds and three assists. Dawson Garcia added 18 points and eight rebounds, while Joshua Ola-Joseph scored 11 on 5-of-6 shooting.
Hawkins hit two-3-pointers and scored 11 to help Illinois lead 35-29 at halftime. Garcia scored 12 on 6-of-10 shooting to keep Minnesota close. Mayer's layup gave Illinois a 4-2 lead 91 seconds in and the Fighting Illini upped their advantage to 26-14 with 5:50 left.
Battle answered with a 3-pointer and Garcia sank a jumper to cap a 15-6 run as the Golden Gophers pulled within three before Hawkins buried a 3-pointer for the halftime margin.
Epps hit two 3-pointers and scored the first eight points of the second half to push the Illinois lead to 43-29 with 17:29 remaining. Jaden Henley ended Epps' run with a dunk, but Minnesota would get no closer than eight from there.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini host No. 21 Northwestern on Thursday.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers travel to play Maryland on Wednesday.
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