Panthers rebound, win exhibition vs Truman State 83-56

DAVID WARRINGTON

The UNI women’s basketball team was back on the floor for the first time in the 2021-22 season on Tuesday hosting  the Truman State University Bulldogs at the McLeod Center. This was their first game after last year’s successful season that saw them make the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). This contest was an exhibition, meaning it won’t count towards the regular season record for either team. Despite a little trouble out of the gates, the Panthers bounced back and cruised to an easy victory, 83-58.

The game was back-and-forth for the opening few minutes, with neither team able to pull away for a significant lead. Late in the quarter, a Kam Finley mid-range jumper gave the Panthers an 11-9 lead, but the Bulldogs responded, going on a 7-0 run to take a 16-11 lead to end the first quarter. 

A layup from Grace Boffeli three minutes into the second quarter put the Panthers on an extended scoring streak, going on an 11-0 run to take a 25-20 advantage. The teams remained close throughout the rest of the half, with the Panthers taking a 33-30 lead into the locker rooms.

The Bulldogs tied things up to start the third quarter off of a three-pointer from Hannah Belanger. UNI managed to respond quickly, going on an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead at 41-33. Some good shooting and solid defense by the Panthers allowed them to stretch their lead further, taking a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter at 59-44.

In the final quarter, UNI cruised to victory, extending their lead while giving several young Panthers their first on-court action in the purple and gold. When the final buzzer sounded, UNI came away with a commanding 83-58 victory.

Cynthia Wolf was the leading scorer for the Panthers, finishing with 14 points. Bre Gunnels pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, and Karli Rucker dished out a team-leading seven assists.

The Panthers subbed liberally in this game, making sure that everyone had a chance to get on the floor to get critical in-game experience while also not overworking anyone in the lead up to the regular season. Of the 15 players listed on the roster, 14 got into the game, while nobody played more than 24 minutes on Tuesday.

This is the only exhibition for the Panthers, so the next time they take the court it will be in a game that counts for their regular season record. UNI starts their season next Tuesday, Nov. 9, when they go on the road to take on the Saint Louis University Billikens.