Panthers beat SLU, head to WNIT Semis

The+UNI+women%27s+basketball+team+defeated+Saint+Louis+in+the+WNIT+quarterfinals%2C+moving+to+the+semifinals+on+Friday.

TONI FORTMANN

The UNI women’s basketball team defeated Saint Louis in the WNIT quarterfinals, moving to the semifinals on Friday.

DAVID WARRINGTON

This past Monday, the UNI Panthers women’s basketball team competed in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) against the Saint Louis Billikens at the UW Health Sports Factory in Rockford, Ill. Having missed out on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Panthers showed up ready to play in the first two rounds, taking down Dayton and Creighton to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. The Billikens made their way through the opening two rounds by defeating DePaul and Milwaukee. Unintimated in their first quarterfinal appearance, the Panthers took down the Billikens, 58-50, to advance to the semifinals.

The game started off with a very slow pace. Points were few and far between in the opening quarter, with the Panthers not getting on the scoreboard for nearly five minutes until freshman Kayba Laube knocked down a three-pointer, tying the game at three. Both teams could only manage a layup in the remainder of the quarter, and the teams were tied, 5-5, after 10 minutes of play.

The offensive pace quickened slightly in the second quarter, with both teams starting to find their grooves on that end of the floor. It was still a very low scoring first half, and the Panthers went into the break trailing 17-16.

The third quarter was tightly contested up until the Panthers went on a 7-0 run in the final 2:40 to go into the final quarter leading 36-28. The Panthers started fast in the fourth quarter, with junior guard Kam Finley knocking down three pointers on back-to-back possessions to pull out to a 12-point lead. The Panther offense stayed consistent throughout the final 10 minutes, and UNI managed to come away with a 58-50 victory to advance to the semifinals.

Finley was the leading scorer for the Panthers, scoring 14 points and knocking down all three of her three-point attempts in 24 minutes off of the bench. Bre Gunnels secured a double-double, finishing with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, as well as adding five blocks on the defensive end.

Ciaja Harbison led the Billikens in scoring, finishing with 18 points. Brooke Flowers was close behind, finishing with 16 points as well as 17 rebounds. Harbison and Flowers combined for 34 of the 50 points scored by the Billikens.

With the victory, the Panthers have advanced to the semifinals of the WNIT. They will play on Friday, March 26 against the Ole Miss Rebels. The game will be played at My Town Movers Fieldhouse in Memphis, Tenn., and is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.