All the excitement for the Gophers men’s basketball team’s appearances in the SoCal Challenge were exhausted Monday.
After a dramatic 62-61 win in the semifinal over California Baptist, Minnesota was kept at an arm’s length away in a 71-62 loss to UNLV in the championship of the multiple-team event Wednesday in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
UNLV (6-0) were a 4 1/2-point favorite, led by as many as 22 points and kept up their strong start after beating once-No. 21 Dayton last week.
The Rebels has forced at least 17 turnovers in each win this season, including Minnesota’s 17. UNLV was able to have eight more shot with that level of disruption.
Minnesota (4-2) fell behind 38-24 at the half and were much better after the break (38-33), but the damage was done.
Jamison Battle scored 17 points to lead the Gophers, followed by 15 apiece from Braeden Carrington and Dawson Garcia, who hit the game-winning shot in overtime on Monday.
The Gophers took a 20-19 lead with under eight minutes left in the first half, but UNLV went on an 18-4 run until halftime. Minnesota’s turnovers stacked up and the Rebels took advantage time after time. Minnesota had 11 turnovers and a handful led to UNLV 3-pointers.
In the first half, Minnesota were outscored by 15 on 3-pointers; the U made 2 of 13 (15 percent) to UNLV’s 7 of 15 (47 percent).
Minnesota couldn’t stack titles in consecutive seasons after winning the Asheville Championship with victories over Western Kentucky and Princeton last season.