The UNI women’s basketball team traveled to St. Louis to face the Saint Louis University Billikens on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The Panthers came out victorious, winning 63-54 lead by strong second half performance. These two teams have some history from the WNIT Rockford Regional last spring, with UNI winning 58-50 over SLU to advance to the WNIT semifinals.
UNI had a slow start in the first quarter scoring only 10 points. The Billikens also started sluggish but ended the quarter scoring the last five baskets, leading 14-10 after one.
After nearly three minutes without a field goal, the Panthers broke the drought on a layup from Karli Rucker. The UNI adjustments continued and started the second quarter on fire with two baskets within 40 seconds. Guard Kam Finley knocked down a timely three-pointer, which was her second one of the first half. Both teams continued to trade baskets back and forth, but St. Louis led at half, 31-25.
Rucker got the scoring going for UNI to open the second half, scoring a basket in the first 20 seconds. She continued her hot streak opening the fourth quarter scoring off a turnover and finished the game with a team-high 17 points. UNI’s defense came to play, causing several scoring droughts for the Billikens.
“I was proud of our team for the way they battled this evening. It was a tough matchup, but we were able to find the defensive holes to get the points we needed. Having four players in double-digits and almost a third of our points off the bench led to a strong offensive performance. Our defense in the second half was stellar and really propelled us to win tonight,” said head coach Tanya Warren.
UNI shot 37% from the field and 28% from three as a team. The Panthers also did a great job getting shots in close, scoring half of their points in the paint. They were able to rely on some key contributors. Bre Gunnels had a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and played a team-high 37 minutes. UNI was able to get a great contribution off the bench from Maya McDermott, scored 10 points in only 12 minutes of play.
UNI will host the University of Iowa for their first home game on Sunday, Nov. 14. This will be a test for UNI facing the No. 9 Hawkeyes. Tip off is 2 p.m. at the Mcleod Center.