Panthers Split New Year’s Eve Basketball Games
The UNI Panthers split a pair of Missouri Valley Conference basketball games Sunday afternoon (Dec. 31, 2017).
The women's team beat league-newcomer Valparaiso at home, 77-56. The men's squad fell at Bradley, 72-53.
Bradley 72, UNI 53 (Men):
Bradley used a 22-3 run in the second half to defeat the Panthers at Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill. The Braves scored on nine-straight possessions to turn a 39-34 deficit into a 56-42 advantage with 11:21 left in the game. UNI would get no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
UNI (8-6, 0-2 MVC) took the five-point lead on a triple from sophomore guard Isaiah Brown with 16:54 left in the game. The Panthers led, 33-32, at the half.
Bradley (11-4, 1-1 MVC) led by as many as seven points in the opening 20 minutes of the game before UNI closed the half on a 9-2 run to take the one-point lead into intermission.
UNI was led in scoring by Brown's career-high 17 points. He drained five three-pointers and grabbed five rebounds against the Braves, while freshman Tywhon Pickford recorded a team-best eight rebounds.
Darrell Brown Jr. scored a game-high 24 points to lead Bradley.
UP NEXT: The Panthers will be back in action on Thursday (Jan. 4) when they play at Missouri State, the preseason pick to win the league. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. at JQH Arena in Springfield, Mo.
UNI 77, Valparaiso 56 (Women):
The Panthers (6-7, 2-0 MVC) withstood a late rally from Valparaiso to remain unbeaten in the Missouri Valley Conference.
UNI led for nearly the entire game, but the Crusaders cut the deficit to 53-46 midway through the fourth quarter. The Panthers retook control of the game on Kennedy Kirkpatrick's three-pointer and Ellie Howell's layup.
Howell, a red-shirt junior, ended with a game-high 21 points and was among four UNI players to tally double-figures. Freshman Nicole Kroeger scored 16 off the bench, followed by 15 from Megan Maahs and 10 from Mikaela Morgan. Maahs also grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds to earn her fifth double-double of the season.
Dani Franklin led Valparaiso with 18 points.
Sunday’s game was the first for UNI against Valpo as an MVC opponent. This is the Crusaders' inaugural season in the league.
With the win, UNI is on a three-game win streak. The Panthers are now 4-2 at home this season, having won four out of their last five games at the McLeod Center.
UNI shot 35.3-percent from the floor for the game, but the bright spot came in the fourth quarter when the Panthers hit 9-of-17 shots (52.9%) to pull away from the Crusaders (7-6, 0-2 MVC) .
UP NEXT: UNI hits the road for a pair of league games this weekend. t Southern Illinois and Missouri State this week. The Panthers play at Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 5), before facing Missouri State at 2 p.m.on Sunday (Jan. 7).