Panther women drop first home game of the year

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

After two straight wins and in the midst of a four-game homestand, the UNI women’s basketball team would play host to the Missouri Valley Conference-leading and nationally-ranked Missouri State Lady Bears in the McLeod Center on Friday night. After a hard-fought, back-and-forth affair between the two conference rivals, the 24th-ranked Lady Bears would come away victorious with a 66-55 victory, handing the Panthers their first home loss this season.

Junior point guard Karli Rucker led Northern Iowa in scoring with 13 points on 5-13 shooting, along with a team-high four assists. She was followed by sophomore Cynthia Wolf’s 10 points on 4-5 shooting and two three-pointers. The Panther women shot 40% from the field for the game and only 30% from three for the contest. They were outscored 34-24 in points in the paint, 12-1 on the fast break and 18-6 in points off turnovers.

UNI head coach Tanya Warren was critical of her team’s effort in Friday’s match. “I thought we were soft. They started the third quarter with three or four offensive rebounds,” said Warren. “That’s a lack of toughness, that’s a lack of being ready to play. We have to do a better job of coming out in the third quarter and being ready to play. More than anything else, we have to play with a lot more toughness.”

The Lady Bears had a balanced scoring attack, with Alexa Willard and Brice Calip putting in 13 points, followed by Jasmine Franklin with 10 and Sydney Wilson with nine. The win moves them to a first-place 9-1 in the conference and 19-3 overall.

The defeat moves UNI to a three-way tie for fifth place in the Missouri Valley at 5-5, tied with Illinois State and Southern Illinois, the latter whom the Panthers will play in the McLeod on Sunday. Their overall record moves to 13-8 on the 2019-2020 season.