Maverick Ahanmisi scored a career-best 21 points as the host Golden Gophers defeated the Panthers in the opening round of the NIT.

Joey King contributed 14 points and seven rebounds for top-seeded Minnesota (21-13), which will face Saint Mary’s in the second round. Andre Hollins and Maurice Walker added 13 points apiece for the Golden Gophers.

Devante Wallace scored 20 points and John Brown added 19 for eighth-seeded High Point (16-15), which was playing in the NIT for the first time in school history. Lorenzo Cugini tallied 16 points and joined Wallace in knocking down four 3-pointers apiece as the Panthers went 12-of-26 from behind the arc.

High Point trailed by 13 with less than 11 minutes left but Wallace and Derrell Edwards each hit three free throws during an 8-0 burst to get the Panthers within 60-55 with 8:11 to play. Minnesota answered with eight of the next 10 points to boost the lead back to 11 with 5:26 remaining and kept High Point at bay down the stretch.

The Golden Gophers used a 12-3 burst to end the first half and take a 38-29 lead into the break. Minnesota increased its advantage to 15 points on a basket by Austin Hollins with 17:34 remaining.

GAME NOTEBOOK: High Point was 21-of-23 from the free-throw line and Minnesota was 30-of-36. … Golden Gophers PG DeAndre Mathieu missed the second half after landing hard on the floor while being fouled in the first half. … Teams from the Big South – the conference the Panthers play in – are 0-6 in the NIT.