UNI Throttles Evansville, Born Goes Off Again
In the first home game of Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play, the UNI Panthers handled business, defeating Evansville, 72-55.
To summarize the victory, Bowen Born did Bowen Born things.
The third-year Panther did whatever he wanted in the first half, and it started early. Born, the reigning MVC Sixth Man of the Year, hit three three-pointers just 3:09 into the contest.
Throughout the first half, the Norwalk native got to the basket at will out of the pick-and-roll, using his body to create separation and finish at the rim. He put in five layups in addition to finishing the first 20 minutes with four threes.
Born had 22 points at the half. Evansville had 20.
"This year, his role is to be a leader and to be a scorer for us," assistant coach PJ Hogan said postgame. "I think he's doing a tremendous job. I think he'll be even better at it in a month. ... Bowen has stepped up."
"It's just an everyday thing for Bowen," James Betz added. "He works really hard at it. ... He needs to score, and we want him to score. He makes everything else easier for us."
In addition to Born's hot hand, forward Tytan Anderson added nine of his own, and Michael Duax threw down a posterizing dunk:
The start of the second half took almost everyone in the McCleod Center by surprise.
Over the first 4:30 of play, the Purple Aces went on a scoring streak of their own, sparking a 13-1 run and dwindling the Panthers' 18-point lead down to just six.
"(Evansville's) guys have a lot of fight," assistant coach PJ Hogan said postgame. "We knew they were going to come out and make a run. It's a Valley game, so you've got to be ready for that."
"Those dry spells, they're going to happen," Anderson said. "We're not going to knock down everything. We've just got to lock down and execute in those moments."
Just as quickly as the UNI lead shrunk, it blew right back open.
The Panther offense settled in and the ball began to move once again. Over the next 5:30 of play, the purple and gold went on a 22-8 run, including back-to-back-to-back triples to break open the UNI lead from 11 to 20. Big man James Betz hit the first two, and Cedar Falls native Landon Wolf added the third with 9:25 to go.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys responded," Hogan added. "We made a run of our own and got that lead back to where we felt comfortable."
"There are always points in the game where there's going to be a lot of high energy," Anderson said. "When shots are being made, we're going to be flowing. That's what happened in the second half."
Despite a six and a half minute stretch between 7:45 and 1:11 left where the Aces held UNI to just six points, the Panthers were able to stave off any attempt at a comeback by Evansville and held on for the 72-55 victory.
Born finished with 29 points -- just one shy of matching his career high that came in the win against Northern Illinois last week. Anderson contributed 19 points and nine rebounds for UNI, and Kenny Strawbridge Jr. finished with 17 to lead the Purple Aces.
"I'm really proud of getting back after the tough loss at Bradley," Hogan said. "We came home, and we got to work. Our guys were dialed in. ... Our guys are getting tested and they're getting better."
Up next, UNI will face the Toledo Rockets (5-3) in Cedar Falls on Tuesday, December 6 at 7:30 PM.