for this game

Minnesota nets first Big Ten win

Jan 3, 2009 - 8:46 PM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Minnesota's second Big Ten Conference tussle of the season went much better than the first.

Lawrence Westbrook scored 15 points to lead the 21st-ranked Golden Gophers past No. 23 Ohio State, 68-59, at Williams Arena on Saturday.

Damian Johnson contributed 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for Minnesota (13-1, 1-1 Big Ten), which bounced back from a frustrating 70-58 loss to No. 15 Michigan State in its conference opener Wednesday.

"It feels good, it helps our confidence," Westbrook said. "I wouldn't say we were depressed after the Michigan State game, but we were a little down. We know that Ohio State is a good team, so winning a game like this helps us to build confidence."

It marked the first conference loss for the Buckeyes (10-2, 1-1), who received a game-high 21 points from leading scorer Evan Turner.

Ohio State appeared to have the upperhand in the first half, opening up a 22-15 lead on the heels of a 7-0 run.

The Golden Gophers responded by scoring the next 16 points, getting 3-pointers from Westbrook and Devoe Joseph, in addition to a thunderous dunk from Colton Iverson.

William Buford mercifully ended the Buckeyes six-minute scoring drought with a pair of free throws late in the first half, but another 3-pointer from Jamal Abu-Shamala in the closing moments gave the Gophers a 34-24 lead after 20 minutes.

"We lost our composure on both ends of the floor during the first half Minnesota run," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "... But that's what Minnesota does. Going into the game, we knew we had to stop the runs but we just weren't able to get it done."

Ohio State regained its composure at the start of the second half as Jon Diebler hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jeremie Simmons added another to trim the deficit to 36-33.

Another Minnesota run, however, thwarted the comeback attempt as the Gophers built a 47-33 advantage, punctuated by Blake Hoffarber's 3-pointer.

The lead eventually swelled to 60-42 and, despite a late push, the Buckeyes got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

Diebler finished with 15 points for Ohio State, which saw its bench outscored 26-12.