Maverick Ahanmisi scored 21 points as the Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the High Point Panthers, 88-81, in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament at Williams Arena.
Joey King had 14 points and seven rebounds for the top-seeded Golden Gophers (21-13), who will matchup against the winner of St. Mary's/Utah in the next round. Andre Hollins and Maurice Walker each finished with 13 points while Austin Hollins added eight points and eight assists.
Devante Wallace tallied 20 points for the eighth-seeded Panthers (16-15). John Brown logged 19 points and Lorenzo Cugini chipped in 16 and six boards.
Minnesota shot 44.8 percent from the field in the first period as it led 38-29 at the half. High Point made 39.1 percent of its field goal tries.
Both teams shot well in the second period as the Golden Gophers connected on 54.2 percent of their shots from the floor and went 22-of-26 at the free- throw line. The Panthers converted 48.4 percent of their field goal attempts, including 9-of-17 from 3-point range. High Point got within six points with 2:59 left, but Minnesota went on a 9-3 run in just over two minutes to extend its lead to 12 and put the game out of reach.
The Golden Gophers' bench outscored the Panthers' reserves 45-18.