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UNI sits at 2-4 in MVC play

Sports Writer

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 15:01


ERIN KEISER/Northern Iowan

UNI is 9-9 (2-4 MVC) this season. The Panthers are averaging 80.5 points per game in victories, while averaging just 56 points per game in losses.

The University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team sat at 6-3 heading into the holiday break. However, the Panthers have slid a little ways since that point and currently stand at 9-9 (2-4 MVC).

Heading into break, the Panthers ventured off to the Big Four Classic in Des Moines, where they faced off against their in-state rivals, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. The Panthers started the game off at an excellent pace, but were soon on the bottom looking up. After falling behind 40-32 at halftime, UNI was unable to retake the lead. Despite outscoring Iowa 41-40 in the second half, the Panthers couldn’t find the bottom of the net with consistency and lost 80-73. The Hawkeyes made 12 3-pointers compared to just three by the Panthers.

Despite the loss, the Panthers held their heads high and headed to Las Vegas, where their next challenge was the No. 21-ranked University of Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels. Marc Sonnen led the Panthers in scoring, putting up 15 points, but he was the only bright spot on a night when UNI struggled shooting the ball. The Panthers fell behind 43-22 in the first half and eventually lost 73-59.

The Panthers kept their heads high and trudged back home to face Saint Mary’s College in what proved to be a shootout. With four scorers in double figures over the course of the afternoon, the Panthers shot 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range to knock off the highly talented team from California. The Gaels’ best player, senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, struggled and UNI pulled off an 82-75 victory to close out nonconference play at 7-5 overall.

UNI headed into Missouri Valley Conference play on Dec. 30 when they faced Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. Entering the game at 12-1, the Shockers looked like they might be the team to beat in the MVC, and they certainly played that way. WSU dominated the final 30 minutes of action in the conference opener and beat UNI soundly 66-41.

Erasing the Wichita State game from their minds, the Panthers headed back home to play Indiana State University. Trailing 37-32 at halftime, the Panthers put together a strong second-half performance, but it wasn’t enough, as UNI dropped to 0-2 in the MVC with a 65-61 loss.

Despite being 0-2, the Panthers played one of their best games of the year on the road against the Illinois State University Redbirds, a team that was projected to finish second in the MVC during the preseason. UNI led for most of the game and cruised to a 70-60 road victory. Seth Tuttle and Anthony James each earned 19 points to lead the Panthers.

UNI returned home for two more games against the University of Evansville and Bradley University. The Panthers split the two home games, suffering a heartbreaking 62-59 loss to the Purple Aces before bouncing back to pound the Braves 84-53.

Sonnen scored 21 points against the Braves on 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range – just one shy of the school’s individual record set by former Panther great Cam Johnson in 1993.

Tuesday night the Panthers traveled to Omaha, Neb., to square off with No. 12-ranked Creighton University. UNI played well from start to finish, but the Bluejays shot 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, which was a major factor in the 79-68 outcome.

UNI returns to action Sunday at 2 p.m. when they host their in-state rivals, the Drake University Bulldogs.


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