Rodney Williams scored 18 points in another fine all-around performance as Minnesota pulled away late to down visiting Appalachian State 70-56 Tuesday.
Williams, who has made the move from small forward to power forward since the Golden Gophers (9-1) lost star Trevor Mbakwe three games ago, added six rebounds and five blocks.
Since Mbakwe suffered his season-ending knee injury in Minnesota’s only loss to Dayton on Nov. 27, Williams has averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.
The Gophers outscored the Mountaineers 42-10 in the paint.
Although Minnesota established a 10-point lead in the first half, Appalachian State (4-4) trimmed the deficit to 32-30 by halftime and played the Gophers tight for most of the second half. The Mountaineers took the lead for the final time at 52-50 on a 3-pointer by Omar Carter with 5:23 remaining.
But Williams responded with one of the Gophers’ two 3-pointers in the game, and Chip Armelin converted a three-point play off a steal from Minnesota’s full-court pressure, contributing to a game-ending 20-4 run.
Carter scored 18 points to lead the Mountaineers, who have dropped two straight.