UNI loses to Drake in final home game of the season

The+Panther+men%27s+basketball+team+fell+in+their+final+home+game+of+the+2020-21+season%2C+losing+in-state+rival+Drake+by+the+score+of+77-69.

Toni Fortmann

The Panther men’s basketball team fell in their final home game of the 2020-21 season, losing in-state rival Drake by the score of 77-69.

DAVID WARRINGTON

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, the UNI Panthers men’s basketball team hosted the Drake University Bulldogs in the final home game of the year. Usually, senior players would be recognized ahead of their final game at the McLeod Center. However, NCAA rules state that all players will receive an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID19 pandemic, so all seniors are eligible to return next season. The Panthers entered this game with a record of 7-14, while the Bulldogs came in with a record of 20-2. UNI played well but ultimately fell to a talented Drake team, 77-69.

The Panthers got off to a fast start, making five of their first seven shots and getting out to an early 11-8 lead. The Bulldogs would not take their first lead of the game until there was 6:55 remaining in the first half, when they took a 24-23 lead. The teams wentback and forth in the final few minutes of the half, with a layup from Drake’s Garrett Sturtz 32 seconds before the break giving the Bulldogs a 31-30 advantage heading into the locker rooms.

Early in the second half saw more of the same, with both teams trading buckets. However, the Bulldogs managed to put together a 12-2 run, giving themselves a 10-point lead with 9:41 remaining in the game. UNI kept things competitive the whole way, with a jumpshot by senior guard Trae Berhow getting the Panthers within six points with 3:37 to play. However, they couldn’t get any closer, and ended up falling to Drake, 77-69.

Austin Phyfe was the leading scorer for the Panthers, finishing the game with 19 points while making eight of his 12 shot attempts. The junior forward also grabbed four rebounds and had three assists. “It felt like some things were flowing better than usual. We were able to get some shots to fall, a little energy, and then it just came down to the little things. Giving up those second chance opportunities that they capitalized on,” Phyfe said after the game. “Those are things that we have to capitalize on to take that next step.” T

hree other Panthers scored in double figures. Trae Berhow finished with 13 points while freshman guards Nate Heise and Bowen Born finished with 12 and 10 points respectively. Sophomore Noah Carter scored seven points to go along with a team high nine rebounds.

After the game, UNI head coach Ben Jacobson discussed what he saw from his team. “I thought we were pretty consistent. In the first half we played good basketball. I thought we did a good job defensively, and we kept them out of the paint a little bit.” He continued, “We played a better game today than we did last Wednesday.”

With the loss, the Panthers fall to 7-15 on the season. They will now have over a week off before they finish their regular season in Normal, Ill. against the Illinois State Redbirds on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1. The MVC conference tournament will begin on Thursday, March 4 in St. Louis, M