MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With continued growth from sophomore Gabe Kalscheur and the impact of two transfer guards in Marcus Carr and Payton Willis, Minnesota has become reliant on 3-point shooting.
The Gophers proved Sunday that they can still go inside to score.
Kalscheur scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, Daniel Oturu added 15 points, and Minnesota beat North Dakota 79-56 on Sunday.
Carr had 10 points and six assists for the Gophers, who had five players score in double figures. A game after hitting the second-most 3-pointers (14 against Central Michigan on Thursday) in school history, Minnesota scored 42 points in the paint.
“Everything that we do is establishing the inside and then going back out,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “They’ve got a make a decision. When you’ve got a player like Daniel (Oturu), who’s a really good player, they’re going to have to decide what they want to do.”
Minnesota (3-3) has won back-to-back games at home after a three-game losing streak on the road against power conference teams.
Marlon Stewart led the Hawks with 14 points, his 12th straight game in double figures and freshman De’Sean Allen-Eikens chipped in 12 points. North Dakota (1-4) shot 41.4% from the field and had 19 turnovers in losing its fourth straight game.
“They’re very good at really controlling that lane and controlling that paint area,” Hawks coach Paul Sather said. “They don’t give you a lot of room to work. I thought that frustrated us a lot as far as our catches inside. … From a defensive standpoint, their plan was very, very good.”
The Gophers were one of the nation’s worst teams from 3 last season, but Kalscheur has led the team’s surge from deep. He’s scored at least 13 points in three straight games and has hit 10 3s in those games.
Kalscheur was 2 of 3 from deep on Sunday and is hitting 37.8% from beyond the arc this season.
“If they’re going to come out at us at the 3-point line, we know we can attack as well,” Kalscheur said.
Turnovers have been an issue for the Hawks. They have 84 turnovers in five games this season and at least 19 in three straight games.
Minnesota turnovers allowed North Dakota to start strong. Kalscheur had turnovers on the Gophers’ first two possessions and the Hawks led 5-0. Minnesota then went on a 15-1 run to take control.
North Dakota was 0-for-7 shooting during the stretch and had four turnovers in a span of 6:38.
Jarvis Omersa came through with 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Gophers. The sophomore had struggled recently, including a start against Utah on Nov. 15, but came through with season highs in points, rebounds and assists in a season-high 22 minutes, 23 seconds.
“Jarvis, it’s never a doubt about playing hard,” Pitino said. “He plays hard and he’s got a high, high motor. He plays with great energy. It’s now about production, filling up the stat sheet.”
North Dakota: A four-game stretch of road games that started at No. 8 Gonzaga is over and the Hawks can apply the lessons learned as they return home and the schedule eases a bit. North Dakota will need to protect the ball better and perhaps can gain some confidence back home.
Minnesota: Returning home, and facing an easier schedule, has helped the Gophers get some momentum. The past two games showed Minnesota can win in different ways, relying either on outside shooting or going inside as it did against the Hawks on Sunday. The Gophers are still home but will face another pair of power conference teams the next two games in DePaul and Clemson.
North Dakota continues a busy week on Tuesday against Division III North Central at home. Sunday started a string of four games in seven days.
Minnesota gets a short break before hosting DePaul on Nov. 29. The Gophers have two games remaining before starting their conference schedule.
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