Men’s basketball: Gophers’ turnovers cost them in blowout loss to San Francisco

The Gophers men’s basketball team’s game against San Francisco on Sunday represented the best remaining opportunity to get a higher-quality nonconference win this season.

Minnesota gave it away in a 76-58 loss to the Dons at the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center in San Francisco.

The Gophers (4-2) have lost both non-Big Ten games against quality opponents, including the 70-68 loss to Missouri on Nov. 16. The U has five remaining nonconference contests this season.

The Gophers finished with 18 total turnovers and it led to 25 points for San Francisco.

“I tow as tough from the standpoint that we had a lot of self-inducted plays that just killed us on both sides of the ball,” head coach Ben Johnson said on the KTLK-AM postgame radio show. “Whether it was a quick shot, a turnover or just a defensive miscue that we are going to fix. That is the disappointing part.”

As the turnovers mounted Sunday, Johnson grew frustrated. When Elijah Hawkins had his fifth turnover with five minutes remaining, he whipped around to the bench for Braeden Carrington to sub in. Immediately after an ensuing timeout, Isaiah Ihnen turned the ball over again.

“We just get casual,” Johnson explained. “I just don’t think right now we understand the value of the ball.”

San Francisco (5-2) was a five-point favorite Sunday and a projected top-three finisher in the West Coast Conference this season.

The Gophers had cut San Francisco’s lead to one with Cam Christie’s 3-pointer with 13 minutes left, 47-46, but it grew to as many as 20 points with one minute remaining.

To start the game, Minnesota went nearly five minutes without a basket and trailed 10-1 until Dawson Garcia hit a trey at the 15:09 mark. The Gophers looked disjointed in stretches in the first half, with eight turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

The U relied on Garcia and Pharrel Payne to keep the team in the game. Garica finished with 19 points and Payne had 15. Payne had been limited to 20 minutes per game due to a lingering foot injury, but he played 26 minutes on Sunday, adding six rebounds and a block.

The Gophers will host New Orleans on Thursday, but will quickly turn the page.

“We are going to get back to the hotel and as a team watch this (Sunday night) and really break this down,” Johnson said. “I think we got to worry about us right now. We will focus on what we can do better and all the corrections we need to make on both sides of the ball and go from there.”

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