Joey King scored 18 points and top-seeded Minnesota spotted St. Mary's a big early lead before surging to a 63-55 win in the second round of the NIT on Sunday.
The Gophers fell behind 14-0 after they didn't score in the game's first 6:50, finally breaking through on Maurice Walker's layup. Walker also gave Minnesota (22-13) its first lead at 29-28 on a putback with 14:53 remaining in regulation.
The Gophers then went on a 12-0 run and held off the Gaels (23-12) down the stretch to earn a trip to the NIT's third round.
Minnesota on Tuesday hosts either Southern Mississippi or Missouri, with the winner there headed to the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
DeAndre Mattieu scored 14 and Austin Hollins added 10 for Minnesota.
Stephen Holt scored 24 points for St. Mary's.