Panthers secure No. 1 seed in MVC

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TONI FORTMANN

BRIELLE KIEWIET, Sports Writer

UNI men’s basketball finished out their regular season by adding two more split wins, claiming the regular-season MVC title and ending the season undefeated in the McLeod. The Panthers defeated the University of Evansville 84-64 in their last home game of the season on Wednesday, Feb. 26 and added a 70-43 road win against Drake University on Saturday, Feb. 29.

UNI’s win over Evansville moved them to a clean 16-0 record at home, the third undefeated home season under head coach Ben Jacobson. The Panthers gained a 46-33 lead at the break after a 7-0 run. They continued their strong offensive play into the second half to secure the win, going 16-26 from the field.

Sophomore A.J. Green led the Panthers with 21 points, going 8-13 from the field. Trae Berhow recorded 16 points and seven rebounds for the game. True freshman Noah Carter tallied 11 points and Austin Phyfe followed with 10.

On Feb. 29, the Panthers visited the Knapp Center to take on Drake. The Panthers returned home with the 27-point win and secured the No. 1 seed in the MVC tournament. The Purple and Gold came out shooting and gained a 12-point lead in the first half. They shot 42 percent from the field compared to the Bulldogs 31 percent in the first 20 minutes.

After the break, the Panthers outrebounded the Bulldogs 44-32 and allowed them only 20 points. They held the home team to 8-27 from the field in the last 20 minutes of the game, securing the double-digit win.

Phyfe led the Panthers with 17 points and 18 rebounds, recording his 9th double-double of the season. Isaiah Brown and A.J. Green each added 15 points, and Carter followed with 11.

Next, the Panthers will prepare to compete in the MVC Tournament in the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO., beginning on Friday, March 6. The last time the Panthers held the No. 1 seed in the MVC Tournament was during the 2009-10 season where they won the championship. Their first game will be at noon on Friday, March 6, with their opponent being the winner of the matchup on Thursday, March 5 between the 8-seeded Drake and the 9-seeded Illinois State.