Panthers fall to top dog, Drake

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Panthers fall to top dog, Drake

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

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The UNI women’s basketball team traveled to Drake University to take on the Bulldogs in a conference battle between two of the top three teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Panthers are currently playing without senior guard, Ellie Howell, who is out with an injury, but coach Tanya Warren said in a press conference, “For us to be able to go on the road and win two without Ellie is a huge testament to this team that starts with our seniors who lead the way and really get our young kids to understand what this program is about.”

The women of UNI started out weak in the first eight minutes of the first quarter against Drake’s defense, as they allowed the Bulldogs to grab an 8-0 run and a 17-7 lead, but the Panthers were quick to respond as they hit a 10-0 run leading 18-17 at the end of the first quarter.

The purple and gold tried to keep it close in the second quarter, but could not keep up to pace with Drake as they allowed 22 in the second while being held to just 13.

In the second half, the Panthers were able to stay even in scoring with the Bulldogs, but were unable to cut the deficit down at all as they fell to the number one team in the Missouri Valley Conference, 76-61.

The Panthers fell to (15-9) on the season with an (8-4) conference record, this is the eighth time in a row that UNI has fallen to Drake.

Despite the loss to their in-state rival, Karli Rucker had another career night as she scored 25 points, tying her career high from the first game this season, and recording her sixth 20-point game of this season.

Junior forward Heidi Hillyard also had a career night as she recorded her career high in rebounds grabbing nine off the board, one offensive and eight defensive.

Up next, the Panthers head home to face the Indiana State Sycamores on Friday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the McLeod Center.

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