UNI Drops Buy-Game to McNeese State on Tough Shooting Night
In a matchup of two teams down on their luck this season, McNeese State (3-6) traveled to Cedar Falls and stole a win over UNI (3-6, 1-1) in the McLeod Center, 52-49.
It was an odd, tough matchup for a young team to handle in a buy-game.
The Cowboys showed two separate defenses the Panthers hadn't seen before tonight. Between a mixture of a box-and-one on the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) scoring leader Bowen Born (22.4 points per game) and a matchup zone, the different looks gave the young UNI team fits.
"They made us uncomfortable at times," redshirt freshman Michael Duax said postgame. "But we were getting great looks at the rim. ... We had some pretty good shots that just needed to fall. Offensively, those nights happen sometimes. We've just got to learn from it."
"That's the way they played defensively coming in," Coach Ben Jacobson added. "Watching their games coming into this one, things (for the opposing offense) are disjointed no matter who they're playing against."
Not only did the Panthers score just 15 points through the first 15 minutes of play, but Born was held scoreless for the first 31.5 minutes. He finished 2-12 from the field with seven points.
"They do a good job with the zone," Jacobson continued. "Tonight, they added chasing (Born) on probably 30 to 35 percent of the possessions. ... At this level, you don't see a box-and-one very often."
It wasn't just the reigning MVC Sixth Man of the Year that struggled from the floor, either. The Panthers were 16-55 from the field, shooting 29.1 percent to McNeese's 20-48 and 41.7 percent.
"As challenging as it was at times, it felt like there were more possessions than not where we got the ball where it needed to be," Jacobson said. "We had really good opportunities, and we didn't cash in on them."
The shots didn't fall, and the turnovers came aplenty, as the Panthers tied their season-high of 18 on Tuesday against Toledo.
"The turnovers really hurt us in the first half," Jacobson added. "Of the 18, I'm going to guess that at least five or six of those are ones where we got careless. Instead of making the easy pass, we tried to make a long one early in the shot clock when we didn't need to."
With scoring spurts here and there by both teams, it felt like a game that would come down to the very end the entire second half.
It all weighed on several final, erratic possessions for both teams over the final 57 seconds with the score 52-49, advantage Cowboys. Not only did UNI get one shot to tie the game -- they got eight different shots, including six three-pointers.
All of them missed.
Between a designed corner three for walk-on Drew Daniel, turnovers by McNeese, and offensive rebounds, UNI had their shot -- or shots.
Daniel, who was shooting 22 percent from deep going into the night, rimmed out on four of the six attempts.
"One of them was designed to get (Daniel) to the corner," Jacobson said. "And he was covered on it by the time he shot it. But the others were just -- I felt like -- pretty good plays by the guys. (Daniel) ended up being the recipient with his feet down and ready to shoot it."
If you told me we'd have eight shots at the end, I'd have been pretty confident we made at least one of them."
"We were a little shocked to keep getting those looks," Duax added. "But we got them because none of us gave up. We were all crashing (the boards), and everyone was working to get the ball back. Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don't."
Duax recorded the first double-double of his career at UNI, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds. Campbell led all scorers with 17, adding six boards.
"I think it's good to get right back to it," Jacobson said. "I think that's always good."
Next, the Panthers will take on South Florida (3-6) in the McLeod Center on Monday, December 12 at 7 pm.