Panthers take down Southern Illinois in overtime

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

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UNI was coming off a tough loss at home to Missouri State and was plagued with turnovers. The Purple and Gold turned that momentum around as the Southern Illinois Salukis came into town to face the Panthers women’s basketball team in a game that needed extra time to find a winner.

The game started out in the favor of Southern Illinois’ as they were able to get out to a quick 7-2 run. The Panthers would come back with a run of their own to take an 8-7 lead before taking a 10-9 lead into the second quarter.

Forward Bre Gunnels started off the second quarter strong, scoring the first eight points for Northern Iowa on an 8-2 run. Despite the great start, Southern Illinois responded once again with a run of their own, capped off by a made three as time expired to take a 30-28 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was a repeat of the first half, scoring back and forth and taking turns going on big runs as the Panther women were down eight with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, but cut the lead to just two points going into the final quarter.

In the fourth, the game came down to the final seconds as Megan Maahs continued her outstanding offensive performance by rebounding and knocking down a free throw to tie the game with 16 seconds left, sending the game into overtime, tied at 60-60.

UNI head coach Tanya Warren was proud of Maahs’s performance for the game. “I’m extremely happy and proud for Meghan. When you’ve been sitting out for as long as she’s been out, it’s going to take time. My message to her is to stay true to the journey. You’ve put in the work, it will come. She was able to reap some of those rewards today.”

Maahs opened up extra time on fire hitting the first six points to put the Purple and Gold up by five, 66-61 before the Salukis tied the game up once more. Coming down the stretch in overtime, the Panther defense controlled the floor, forcing the Salukis to miss seven of their shots in the final 60 seconds of the game. The Purple and Gold also strived on the offensive side as they hit four of their five free throws in the final minute, finishing the game 71-66.

The Panther women will hit the road for away games at Indiana State on Thursday, Feb. 13 and Evansville on Saturday, Feb 15.