UNI stays hot, wins pair of MVC games



Trey Campbell (4) scored a career-high 20 points while hitting six 3-pointers in UNI’s win over Illinois State.

BEN LAHART , Sports Writer

The UNI men’s basketball team has won their last two matchups over the last week. The Panthers first beat Illinois State in a tight competition in the McLeod Center on Wednesday, Jan. 18, followed by a Saturday comeback victory in Chicago against UIC.

Illinois State put up an excellent fight in a game that was close from the jump. The Redbirds were up first with an early 3-pointer but the Panthers were able to stay close.

Around the eight minute mark UNI went on an 11-2 run to take a 10-point lead. A late 11-1 run from Illinois State tied the game at 30-30 with 20 seconds left in the half. A last second 3-pointer from Trey Campbell capped off a 14-point first half for the freshman guard. UNI led at the half 33-30.

The second half remained close with eight lead changes and a number of ties. The Redbirds saw their largest lead of the game, six points, near the 10 minute mark of the second half. However, they were not able to hold onto that lead. UNI finished the game with a 20-12 run and escaped with a two-point victory, 65-63.

The UNI scoring was paced by Campbell’s 20 points including a game-high six made 3-pointers on seven attempts. Bowen Born had a good game contributing 11 points as well.

UIC started off hot in the Saturday contest making their first two shots, both from 3-point range. On the other hand, UNI missed their first two shots and found themselves down six early. The Panthers were down by as much as 16 near the middle of the first half and had to fight their way back to stay competitive. UNI slowly started to chip into the big lead and wound up down only seven at the half, 38-31.

In the second half the Panthers once again found themselves down double digits early. However, after a quick 13-0 run, UNI had their first lead of the game at the 13 minute mark. The game remained close the rest of the way with a lot of back-and-forth scoring. The Panthers took the lead with seven minutes remaining and never looked back. UNI made eight of 10 free throws in the final minute to secure the win, 78-72.

The Panthers outscored the Flames by 13 in the second half, completing the comeback win. Michael Duax played an excellent game as he led the team in points with 21 and rebounds with 11. This was Duax’s third double-double of the season and was a career high in points. Born and Tytan Anderson both played well with 18 and 17 points respectively while combining for 16/18 from the free throw line.

UNI saw great improvements in shooting from the first to the second half jumping from 38% to 52% from the field, as well as improving from the 3-point line and free throw line.

With these wins the Panthers now sit third in the Missouri Valley Conference rankings with a conference record of 7-3. UNI is also now 11-9 on the season and 6-1 in their last seven games.

UNI’s next contest will be on Wednesday, Jan. 25, against Valparaiso in the Hope Always Game, in which fans are encouraged to wear pink. This will tip off at 7 p.m. in the McLeod Center, and will be available for streaming on ESPN+, or on Panther Sports Radio, KXEL 1540.