UNI goes 1-1 pre-MVC tourney

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UNI goes 1-1 pre-MVC tourney

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

ELIOT CLOUGH, Sports Editor

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Women’s basketball at UNI is alive and well.

In a conference mostly dominated by Drake University, the Panthers have remained competitive, placing second during the last three conference tournaments behind the Bulldogs.

After stealing a win over the Braves of Bradley University in the McLeod Center on Thursday, March 7, 61-57, the purple and gold has locked in their postseason position.

The third-ranked Panthers will take on the likes of the sixth-seeded Southern Illinois Salukis in the first round.

In order to claim their position in the MVC, the Cats knew they would have to compete to the best of their abilities against a tough Bradley team.

“Bradley is coming in [and] they’re playing very well. They’re very good at the guard spot,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren in a press conference before the match.

Starting the contest and into the fourth quarter, the Panther women held the lead. The Braves wouldn’t go away, however, ultimately taking the first lead of the contest with 1:32 remaining on a made three pointer.

Then, senior guard Mikaela Morgan would step up to finish off the contest, hitting a jumper to regain the lead and following that with two made free throws with six seconds remaining to seal the deal.

Sophomore Karli Rucker led UNI in scoring with 15, also hauling in nine rebounds and dishing out four assists. Morgan and Taylor Hagen were just behind Rucker in scoring, as Morgan ended the contest with 12 and Hagen with 11.

Following the last-second victory in Cedar Falls, the Panthers returned to their home court on Saturday afternoon to take on the Redbirds of Illinois State.

“[They have a] great coaching staff, they definitely have one of the best posts in the league in Simone Goods, they also have, who is going to be [MVC] Newcomer of the Year, [TeTe] Maggett,” said Warren before the contest.

Unlike UNI’s close win over the Braves, this contest was a back and forth affair, having 11 total lead changes. The Panthers led at the end of every single quarter, except the fourth.

Towards the end of the hard-fought battle, one had to determine the game would come down to a final possession for either squad.

With roughly 30 seconds remaining, the Redbirds called a timeout in order to set up their offense in an attempt to regain the lead, down by one.

Maggett was ultimately selected to take the final shot, missing off the right side of the rim.

Considering the circumstances and some questionable calls prior, Goods likely could have been called for an over-the-back foul, but was able to haul in the rebound and put it back up, grabbing the lead and not letting up for the final 15 seconds.

Rucker put up the final shot for UNI after Warren elected not to take a time out, but was rejected by a member of the Illinois State squad.

Nicole Kroeger led the Panthers in scoring with 13, followed by Hagen with 11.

The purple and gold will head south to the Quad Cities for Hoops in the Heartland and their matchup with Southern Illinois, taking on the Salukis Friday, March 15.

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