Panthers down Loyola, move into first place



The Panthers men’s basketball team moved into first place in the Missouri Valley Conference with their win over Loyola-Chicago on Sunday.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

With first place on the line in the Missouri Valley Conference last Saturday, the Panthers played host to the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in the McLeod Center. Widely expected to be a hard-fought, closely contested game between the two MVC powerhouses, the game lived up to its hype. Behind a near sellout crowd and a national T.V. audience, the Panther men were able to defeat the Ramblers 67-62 in a game that needed to be decided in the overtime period.

A balanced scoring attack for Northern Iowa was the story in this game. Sophomores A.J. Green and Austin Phyfe lead the team with 14 points apiece, despite Green shooting only 33% from the field and committing seven turnovers in the contest. Guard Spencer Haldeman chipped in with 12 points and 3 three-pointers.

UNI lead by four points at the break, 32-28. After a back-and-forth second half, Loyola would eventually tie the game with just seconds remaining on two free throws by forward Tate Hall, sending the already tense game into overtime. The Panthers jumped out to a seven point lead in the extra period, not allowing a single Rambler point until a made free throw by Loyola big man Cameron Krutwig. Stout defensively throughout the whole game, UNI would fend off the Ramblers in overtime.

“We definitely had our best defensive effort of the season,” UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said during his weekly press conference. “There was a better level of discipline. We were much more intentional with what we were doing, and we did a better job of playing team defense and not getting caught up with worrying about their guys. We did a lot better with help defense, which is one of the things we’ve been working on in practice. It definitely showed up on Sunday.”

True freshman guard Antwan Kimmons had a coming out party on Sunday. In 19 minutes off the bench, Kimmons pitched in 13 points, three rebounds and three assists, and provided his team with a much-needed boost in the second unit. He made five of seven shots from the field and tied his career high in points, which he set back on Dec. 2 against Luther College.

The win puts UNI at 6-2 in the MVC and 17-3 overall on the season. The Panther men will look to remain in first place when they take on Missouri State at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan 29 in the McLeod Center. They will then hit the road for games against the University of Evansville on Feb. 1 and against Valparaiso University on Feb. 5 before returning back to Cedar Falls on Feb 8 for an in-state matchup against Drake University.