UNI kept it close for 28 minutes before falling to Bradley in the first Missouri Valley Conference matchup of the season, 68-53 on Wednesday night.

The way the game started surprised no one. Slow, low-scoring, and -- truth be told -- a bit sloppy. Pairing the Braves' poor shooting and the Panthers' turnovers and empty possessions, things were ugly.

For a frame of reference, Bradley didn't make their second bucket of the contest until the 12:51 mark of the first half. That, and neither team reached double digits till freshman guard Trey Campbell drilled the first of his two threes that gave the Panthers a 12-8 lead with 11:09 remaining before halftime.

"I thought Trey had a great first half," Coach Ben Jacobson said postgame. "Trey played really well. ... He has such a good feel for the game."

Bradley coach Brian Wardle then instituted a zone defense that both helped and hurt the Panthers over the ensuing 10 minutes. The length and pressure of the Braves forced Panther ballhandlers to get rid of the ball and caused several offensive turnovers.

It also opened up quite a few shots for the UNI offense.

Following Campbell's triple, the purple and gold took advantage of the zone, finding an open Bowen Born for two threes and a floater that gave him eight of his 11 first-half points.

Bradley matched the Panthers' scoring effort the rest of the way, as each team scored 18 points before the half. UNI held a 30-29 lead at the break.

"I didn't think we played great in the first half," Coach Jacobson said. "To still be up one -- I really like that. I liked how hard we played. ... There wasn't really anything smooth about it. We just made enough plays to be up."

UNI's consistent scoring and defense held through the first five and a half minutes of the second, sending the Cats on a 10-4 run with five points coming from both Born and forward Tytan Anderson. UNI held a 40-35 lead with 14:39 to play.

Then Bradley went on a run and never let up.

UNI went scoreless over the next two minutes, and the Braves' three-point shooting took off from there. Connor Hickman drilled a triple as part of Bradley's 7-0 streak to give them their first lead in the second frame, 42-40 with 12:34 to go.

In the remaining time, the Braves shred the UNI defense, for 29 while shooting 6-10 from three and 11-18 from the field. The Panther offense's wheels fell off too, as they went just 3-10 from the field for 13 points over the final 11 minutes.

"We had plenty of opportunities," redshirt freshman Michael Duax said. "We got the ball in spots we wanted to get the ball. It's just about executing. We need to get rid of minor mental mistakes. With more experience, we'll get rid of those and we'll be alright."

Born led all scorers with 22 points on 7-13 shooting. Tytan Anderson went just 2-11 from the field to finish with eight points and eight rebounds. Duke Deen tallied 18 points for Bradley with four three-pointers.

"We did enough for 28 minutes to get in really good position to get out of here with a win," Coach Jake said. "They beat us in that four or five-minute stretch in the second half. ... It's really important that (our guys) keep finding the good things that happen, take it with them, and then learn from the stuff we didn't do as well."

Up next, the Panthers (2-4, 0-1) will take on the Evansville Purple Aces (2-7, 0-1) at home on Saturday, December 3 at 1 p.m. in the McCleod Center.

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