Panther women pick up back-to-back MVC road wins


Courtesy Photo

The UNI women’s basketball team earned two MVC road wins, defeating Illinois State 74-67 last Thursday and Bradley 60-36 last Saturday. They are now 5-2 in MVC play and 12-6 overall on the season.

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

On Thursday, Jan. 27, the UNI women’s basketball team played its second of three straight road games against the Illinois State Redbirds. UNI came into the game with a record of 10-6 and a conference record of 3-2, while Illinois State came into the game with a record of 10-8 and a conference record of 6-1. Both teams were in the top four of MVC standings, so this game would test the strength of each MVC contender.

The game started out slow for both teams, with UNI leading 4-0 after holding Illinois State to a scoreless start for nearly the first four minutes. Illinois State took a brief three-point lead at the 3:12 mark of the first quarter, but a layup by UNI’s Grace Boffeli and a three-pointer by Kam Finley put the Panthers back in front 12-10. Nicole Kroeger nailed another three at the end of the first quarter to increase the UNI lead to 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

The beginning of the second quarter saw both teams battle back and forth, but a pair of threes from Finley and a layup from Sara McCullough allowed the Panther women to take their biggest lead of the game by seven at 25-18. Illinois State roared back in front on a 9-0 run, but another late three-pointer by Kroeger put UNI up 28-27 at the half.

The teams continued to battle back-and-forth in the early minutes of the second half, with one tie and four lead changes. The Panthers went on a 9-2 run to end the third quarter however, and saw their lead stretch to as much as 11 before closing the third leading 48-39. 

The fourth quarter opened with the Redbirds making a furious comeback, eventually tying the game at 61. UNI answered back with a 5-0 run sparked by Kroeger’s fourth three-pointer of the game. Illinois State cut the lead to one with just over 30 seconds to go, but the visitors from Cedar Falls sealed the game at the free throw line, going six-of-six in the final 30 seconds. Kroeger led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Finley chipped in 12 points on four three-pointers.

The Panther women continued their road schedule in the state of Illinois on Saturday in Peoria, Ill. at Bradley. The Braves came into the game on a 14-game losing streak and had not won a conference game. 

UNI got off to a slow start, but piled up eight points in the final three minutes of the first quarter and led 17-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Panthers used a dominant defensive effort in the second quarter to get a 31-11 lead, holding Bradley to just three points in the entire quarter. In the third quarter, UNI stretched the lead out to 28 points, before Bradley heated up late in the third. They cut the lead to 21, but UNI closed out the half strong to end with a 49-24 lead. Bradley scored 12 to UNI’s 11 in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers still won easily 60-36. 

Boffeli led the way with a double-double with 14 points and ten rebounds in just 18 minutes of play. UNI’s next game is Wednesday, Feb. 2, at the McLeod Center against Indiana State, with the men’s basketball team playing Bradley immediately following the conclusion of the women’s game. Admission to the women’s game will also be valid for the men’s game.