UNI Closes Strong, Hands Missouri State First Valley Loss

UNI Closes Strong, Hands Missouri State First Valley Loss

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --  UNI closed both halves of Thursday’s Missouri Valley Conference matchup against the Missouri State Lady Bears with 12-2 scoring runs to turn the tide in a tight game and pull out an 80-69 victory at the McLeod Center. Lizzie Boeck scored 19 points to lead four Panthers in double figures and combined with Rachel Madrigal to go 5-of-5 from three-point range.
Leading 68-67 with just under two minutes to play, Madrigal hit what would prove to be the biggest shot of the night when she drained a trey from the left wing. The Panthers (9-5, 2-1 MVC) would go on to score three more points before MSU (11-4, 2-1 MVC) would answer, then salt the game away at the foul line by going 9-of-10 at the stripe over the final 1:43 to effectively seal their second MVC win of the season, while sending the Lady Bears to their first loss in three Valley contests.

UNI would come up big on the defensive end in the final minutes as well, holding the Lady Bears without a field goal for the last 5:47 of the game after MSU had pulled to within 64-63 on a Lacey Boshe layup.

The Panthers’ late run to a final double-digit margin of victory overshadowed what had been a nip-and-tuck battle throughout, with neither team leading by more than six points at any point in the second half up until UNI's late charge. UNI took a 40-38 lead into intermission after erasing an eight-point MSU advantage over the final 4:17 of the period.

Missouri State used the combination of stingy defense and a balanced scoring attack to grab the upper hand early in the game. After UNI got a three-pointer from Erin Brocka at the 17:25 mark to take a 5-4 lead, the Lady Bears went on a 16-5 to seize a double-digit lead. Tia Mays initiated the spurt with a steal and layup, and Jaleshia Roberson sandwiched a Casey Garrison jumper with a pair of threes, then knocked down another shot with 11:09 to play to cap the run and make it a 20-10 contest.

UNI would bounce back behind the play of Boeck, who would score five of the next nine points for the Panthers over the course of just one minute and 39 seconds to pull the home team to within three points. UNI would continue to chip away, drawing to within 26-24 on a pair of K.K. Armstrong free throws with 6:27 to play in the period.

But MSU would recover, getting back-to-back threes from Karly Buer and Jasmine Malone to stretch its lead back to six. Another Buer jumper and two Garrison foul shots extended the cushion to 36-28.

But Mercedees Morgan started the Panthers’ late run with a wide open shot in the lane, and Kalin followed suit at the 3:43 mark to make it a 36-32 game. Rachel Madrigal then canned her second triple of the half, and Kalin hit from long range as well to pull UNI even at 38-38 with 1:22 to play. Boeck capped the run and gave the Panthers their first lead since the 17:25 mark with a lay-in with 47 seconds to go.

The two clubs combined to convert 11-of-26 three-point field goal attempts in the first half, and the Lady Bears hit on 42.9 percent of their field goal attempts in the period.

MSU would tie the score on a Christiana Shorter bucket on their first possession of the second half, but Katelin Oney answered for UNI with a jumper of her own to give the Panthers the lead once again. Armstrong’s three-point play at the 13:29 mark gave UNI a 50-44 lead, but the Lady Bears battled back again, scoring five of the next seven points to draw to within two points.

The two clubs traded blows for the ensuing nine minutes, with Garrison carrying the load for MSU by scoring eight of the Lady Bears’ final 12 points of the contest.

UNI took advantage of Missouri State’s charity by converting 25-of-29 (.862) free throw attempts and connected on 9-of-19 (.474) three-point tries.

Garrison shared high-scoring honors with Boeck, totaling 19 points to go along with team-highs of seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Next up, Missouri State will conclude its road trip with a Saturday (Jan. 8) evening contest against Bradley in Peoria, Ill. Tip-off from the Renaissance Center is slated for 7:05 p.m.

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