After two consecutive wins against midwestern opponents, the UNI women’s basketball team made their way down to Omaha, Neb. to take on Creighton University. It was a game that both teams had circled on their calendars, as the Panthers knocked out the Bluejays in last year’s National Invitational Tournament. Creighton entered the contest with a 2-2 record, which included a win over fellow Iowa school, Drake University.
UNI didn’t waste any time getting points on the board as junior guard Kam Finley nailed a three-point shot immediately after senior forward Bre Gunnels won the tipoff. From there it was back-and-forth until the first quarter buzzer went off, which Creighton beat with a last-second layup.
The second quarter marked one of UNI’s best offensive outputs of the season, as the team shot 9-16 from the field, and missed only one of their eight free throw attempts. The Purple & Gold needed that impressive run as Creighton held the lead for the majority of the quarter. Eventually, the Panthers went on a seven-point run, netting them a 40-33 lead at halftime.
Gunnels sank a three-pointer right out of the gate in the third quarter, giving UNI its largest lead of the day at 10 points. That lead stayed constant as the teams went tit-for-tat. As the quarter winded down, Creighton became too much to handle. They went on a 5-0 run and made another last-second layup to tie things up heading into the final quarter.
The Bluejays took that momentum and ran with it all the way to the end. It seemed as if UNI’s offense had made a deal with the devil, as their second quarter wonders were replaced by fourth quarter blunders. UNI shot 33% from the field, a far cry from Creighton’s 60%. Try as they might, the Panthers were unable to overcome Creighton’s late dominance, losing the game 72-79.
Senior guard Karli Rucker led the Panthers in scoring with 20 points. Gunnels tallied 19 points along with seven rebounds and five assists.
The Panthers will continue on the road, this time heading up north to St. Paul, Minn. for a first-time match against the St. Thomas Tommies, who joined the Summit League just this season. The game will be on Wednesday, Dec. 1, with tipoff at 7 p.m.