UNI loses heartbreaker to Drake in OT, 82-74

A packed house at the McLeod Center on Saturday night pitted UNI against Drake for an in-state rivalry match-up. The Panthers and Bulldogs fought hard throughout the contest, which could not be decided in regulation. Drake prevailed in the overtime period 82-74, winning their fourth consecutive game against Northern Iowan.

DREW HILL, Sports Writer, Opinion Columnist

A nearly sold-out McLeod Center hosted the intrastate rivalry between UNI men’s basketball and the Drake Bulldogs on Saturday night. The Panthers came into the game with a conference record of 5-2, and the visitors from Des Moines came in with a conference record of 4-2. Both teams were coming off close losses, so this game between two of the top-four Missouri Valley teams was important to see who would establish conference supremacy. Trailing by 10 with under four minutes to play, the Bulldogs stormed back to force overtime, where they prevailed by the score of 82-74. 

UNI’s first big run began at the 13:41 mark of the first-half as they went on a 9-0 run to take a 15-9 lead. The Panthers then opened up an eight-point, 22-14 lead capped off by a Cole Henry layup. The Bulldogs responded with a 12-2 run to take a 26-24 lead with 7:14 remaining in the first half, as forward Tucker DeVries knocked down a three-pointer to cap off the Drake run.

The teams combined for just five points over the next three-and-a-half minutes, but the last three minutes saw a flurry of scoring. A three-pointer from A.J. Green with 25 seconds left gave UNI a 41-34 halftime lead, which was tied for their largest lead of the first half.

Drake cut the lead to three at 43-40 with just over 17:30 to go in regulation, but the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to get their first double-digit lead of the game at 50-40 after another three-pointer from Green sent the McLeod Center into a raucous. The largest lead UNI had was an eleven-point lead at 55-44 with 11 minutes to go in regulation. 

Trae Berhow hit a three-pointer from the corner to extend the UNI lead to ten points, 69-59, with 3:37 to play. However, this would be the last made field goal of the entire game for the Panthers, as Drake’s defense turned up the intensity. The Bulldogs outscored UNI 11-1 in the final three minutes of regulation, as Drake’s Roman Penn drove past Berhow for a layup with six seconds left to even up the score at 70. Green missed a long three at the buzzer, and the game went to overtime.

Drake scored first in overtime off a pair of Tremell Murphy free throws, and Green tied it up with two free throws of his own. The strong defensive effort of Drake extended into the overtime period, as the UNI offense could not get anything going and did not make a shot from the field in overtime. The Bulldogs capped off the game at the foul line, making all ten of their foul shots in the extra period. The final score from the McLeod Center was 82-74. 

The loss drops the Panthers to 9-9 on the year and 5-3 in conference play, while Drake moves to 14-6 overall and 5-2 in the MVC. Green led UNI with 27 points and nine rebounds. Bowen Born chipped in a pair of assists and steals, and Tywhon Pickford and Nate Heise each added eight points. Drake had a balanced scoring night, as five players scored in double digits, led by Penn, who had 18 points. UNI’s next game is Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Evansville.