Panthers go 1-1 in Cancun, defeat Luther 110-51



JACOB POTTER, Sports Editor

It’s been quite the adventure already for the 2019-20 men’s basketball team after visiting historic sites like the Colosseum in Rome this summer and recently escaping the Iowa cold for Cancun, Mexico last week.

“It was super nice being down there,” starting point guard A.J. Green said.  “The resort was awesome, but playing two great teams was very good for us.”

Aside from enjoying the palm trees, nice weather and everything else that Cancun has to offer, the Panthers battled West Virginia but fell short 60-55 on Tuesday, Nov. 26, followed by bouncing back against South Carolina 78-72 on Wednesday, Nov. 27. 

“Those are the kind of games that can do wonders for you,” head coach Ben Jacobson said.  “Highly competitive and very physical games.  Both games were close every possession and the intensity level on every single possession was really high.”

The Panthers went up 55-53 with 1:30 left to play, but ultimately fell short after shooting 15 percent from three.

Looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic shooting performance, UNI shot 40 percent from behind the arc against South Carolina on the following night.  The Panthers pulled away late 74-70 with a clutch mid-range jumper by Green.  Green came back from his 2-15 shooting showing against WVU with 26 points on the night.

“I think we took steps in the right direction in both of those games, despite losing to West Virginia,” Green said.  “We learned a lot about our team, so overall, it was a good trip.”

The team returned to the McLeod Center for a matchup against Luther College on Monday, Dec. 2, putting up a record night in a 110-51 rout.  The Panthers broke the McLeod Center record for most points scored with 110.

“It felt really good,” freshman forward Noah Carter said.  “We were all shooting well.  Good nights like that when everybody’s shooting well, it’s nice when the teams on fire like that.”

Carter scored a career-high 25 points, along with pulling down eight rebounds.  Green poured in 19 points and Trae Berhow added 17 on the night.

Coach Jacobson was pleased with the entire team effort, especially seniors, such as Luke McDonnell, who stepped up despite decreased minutes from last season.

“The guys are growing and there’s some things we really liked tonight,” Jacobson said.  “Luke [McDonnell] and Lincoln [Conrey] played great.  You’re talking about two seniors that practice their tails off every day and they went in and did everything that they were supposed to do.”

Up next, the Panthers travel out west to face off against No. 20 Colorado on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

“The most important thing is taking advantage of everyday that we have while we’re here to get locked into Colorado and get our individual work in so we’re a better team when we take the floor against Colorado,” Jacobson said.  “That 40 minutes is going to be challenging, it’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be fun.”