UNI Falls To Southern Illinois In MVC Opener
Southern Illinois ended 14 years of frustration at UNI Thursday night (Dec. 29, 2017).
The Salukis upset the Panthers, 56-53, in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Prior to Thursday, Southern Illinois had dropped all 11 of its previous games against the Panthers at the McLeod Center. The victory ended the Salukis' streak of 14-consecutive losses in Cedar Falls. Their last win at UNI was on Jan. 22, 2003, an 88-78 overtime decision in the UNI-Dome.
After missing nine of their first 10 three-point shots, Southern Illinois suddenly caught fire from long range in the second half. The Salukis (9-5 overall, 1-0 MVC) made 7-of-10 three-pointers after intermission, including a triple from Armon Fletcher that bounced high off the iron and went straight down through the net with 54.5 seconds left that gave the visitors a 55-48 lead.
Southern Illinois got 14 points from Kavion Pippen and 12 points off the bench from Marcus Bartley to spark the comeback. The Salukis trailed by six points, 33-27, early in the second half.
UNI's lead, however, wouldn't last. After a basket from Austin Phyfe with 15:30 remaining in the game, the Panthers went scoreless for the next five minutes, 23 seconds. The drought ended when Hunter Rhodes drained a three-pointer at the 9:07 mark.
While the Panthers (8-5 overall, 0-1 MVC) were struggling offensively, Southern Illinois was in the midst of a 12-2 run that led to a 39-35 lead with 9:37 remaining in the game.
Tywhon Pickford was the only UNI player in double figures with 13 points. Klint Carlson grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds for the Salukis.
UP NEXT: UNI will be back in action at Bradley on Sunday (Dec. 31). Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill.