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Getting defensive: UNI shuts down MSU 48-37

Sports Writer

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 14:02

Basketball

ERIN KEISER/Northern Iowan

Senior guard Marc Sonnen (23) and the UNI Panthers struggled shooting the ball Tuesday night against the Missouri State Bears, but came away with a 48-37 victory behind a strong defensive effort.

The University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team defeated the Missouri State University Bears 48-37 in a hard-fought defensive game Tuesday night in the McLeod Center.

The Panthers held the Bears to just 37 points, which is Missouri State’s lowest scoring output ever in Missouri Valley Conference play.

“We simply just couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” second-year MSU head coach Paul Lusk said.

The Bears (7-17, 5-7 MVC) shot below 28 percent from the floor for the game. However, the Panthers didn’t have the best shooting the ball either, despite finishing the game at 40 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

“Sometimes you’re just going to have off nights,” said UNI senior forward Jake Koch, who finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds on his birthday. “We just weren’t able to make enough plays tonight (offensively), but that’s when it comes down to the defensive end.”

When it came to UNI’s slow start for the first 30 minutes of the game, UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said, “I think (it was) a combination of maybe not having the same energy we had on Saturday and missing a couple of pretty good looks.”

After defeating then No. 15-ranked Wichita State University last weekend, the Panthers’ sluggish offense couldn’t seem to get the same rhythm they had in a packed McLeod Center just three days prior.

After scoring just 20 points in the opening half, the Panthers managed to score 28 in the second half. UNI shot 52.6 percent from the floor and made three of their nine 3-point attempts in the second half. After holding Missouri State to 19 points in the first half, UNI continued to play strong defense and held the Bears to just 18 second-half points on 7-of-28 shooting.

Despite the Panthers’ (13-11, 6-6 MVC) poor shooting, they stepped their game up in the final 10 minutes of regulation to shut the door on the Bears and walk away with their fifth straight win at home.

“Things were going a little bit better for us, but it didn’t feel like it in the first half (when) we had the right kind of energy going for us offensively,” Jacobson said of the final 10 minutes of action.

The Panthers were led in scoring by senior guard Anthony James’s 14-point performance. James finished with a double-double, collecting 10 rebounds as well.

UNI’s solid second-half effort helped them secure another crucial home victory in MVC play. The Panthers will head to Peoria, Ill., Sunday to take on the Bradley University Braves at 2 p.m. UNI defeated Bradley by 31 points on Jan. 12 in the McLeod Center. Sunday’s matchup will air on ESPN3.com.

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