MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Minnesota is salvaging another season with a strong run in the National Invitation Tournament.
Maurice Hargrow scored 12 of his 22 points in a game-breaking second-half run and Ben Johnson added 18 to lead the Golden Gophers to an 84-70 victory over Hawaii in the second round of the NIT.
Minnesota (17-12) had a five-game losing streak before the NIT to end any hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament. But the Golden Gophers improved to 21-8 all-time in the NIT on Monday, although that includes games later vacated by the school due to NCAA infractions.
"This team is still trying," Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. "The effort they are putting out is great. Them showing that they want to continue this season is very gratifying as a coach."
The Gophers fell behind, 50-41, in the first three minutes of the second half, but took control with a 26-6 run. Hargrow's 3-pointer started the spurt and the sophomore guard capped it with another jumper from beyond the arc, giving Minnesota a 67-56 lead with 7:05 to go.
"We knew that Hawaii was good and that this would be a huge game for us," said Hargrow, who scored his 500th career point in the second half and tied a career-high with three 3-pointers. "We need to continue to take one game at a time and stay focused on playing our type of game. We did not have a good first half, but we picked things up in the second half by making good shots and knocking down their shots."
Minnesota's 84 points were the most since notching 90 on February 8 against Purdue.
"Our offense played as good as they have in a long time in the second half," Monson said. "They explored the inside before shooting threes. We ran good basic offense and movement. To score 48 points in a half shows something's going right."
Rick Rickert contributed 16 points and Jerry Holman had 14 as the Gophers won for the 15th time in 18 home games this season. Minnesota will play either Temple or Rhode Island in the quarterfinals.
Michael Kuebler led Hawaii (19-11) with 20 points and Carl English scored 19. The Rainbow Warriors fell to 3-10 all time in postseason games on the mainland.
"They wore us down," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "In the last two weeks, we've been home a total of 21 hours. Kids do get tired. Once we get tired, we start grabbing and hanging. We got called on it and they made their free throws."
Hawaii never trailed in the first half. The Rainbow Warriors owned a 20-13 lead with 13:24 left in the period, but the Gophers forged a 30-30 tie on a pair of free throws by Hargrow with 4:54 before halftime. However, Hawaii managed to take a 40-36 advantage into the intermission.
Minnesota shot 52 percent (29-of-56) from the field, including 68 percent (13-of-19) in the second half, and converted 21-of-27 trips to the free throw line.
Phil Martin Jr. scored 13 points and Nkeruwem Akpan chipped in 12 for the Rainbow Warriors, who shot 47 percent (26-of-55), hit 8-of-11 free throws and were outrebounded, 39-22.