Panthers drop games to Bulldogs, Braves



Bowen Born (13) attempts a jumper. Born hit buzzer beaters to force overtime and double overtime in the 88-81 loss against Drake.

BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI men’s basketball team suffered two close losses last week, the first in a double overtime battle with Drake on Wednesday, Feb. 1. On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Panthers faced off against the Bradley Braves but once again lost.

Against Drake, UNI was able to keep the score close throughout the contest. The scoring started off very slow but at the 13 minute mark of the first half, the Panthers found themselves down by eight points. However, after a 17-3 UNI run, the Panthers were back on top with six minutes left until halftime. UNI was able to hold this lead through halftime with a five point advantage at the break, 33-28.

Drake struck first in the second half scoring the first three points. UNI responded with a 13-4 run to give them an 11-point lead with just under 12 minutes remaining. This was not the end for the Bulldogs though as they responded with an 11-0 run over the next three and a half minutes to tie the game. The scoring was back-and-forth from that point on. 

With about three minutes remaining Drake had a five point lead when Bowen Born hit his third three of the night. This was followed by two Drake free throws and a Trey Campbell three. Drake once again made two free throws and with just three seconds remaining appeared to have won the game. That was until Born hit a miraculous buzzer beating three to tie the game and force overtime.

Overtime played out similarly to the end of regulation with Drake getting a decent lead with a few minutes remaining, leaving UNI to rely on fouling and 3-pointers to try and win. When the Panthers once again found themselves down three with just a few seconds remaining, they once again looked to Born when he hit an even more miraculous shot to send the game into a second overtime.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, UNI used up the last of their luck in the first overtime. Drake once again got out to an early lead but this time UNI couldn’t make up the deficit. The Panthers wound up losing 88-81.

Born played an excellent game with season highs in points, 30, field goals attempted, 22 and field goals made, 10. Four other Panthers finished in double figure scoring. Those five players accounted for 98% of the team’s total points.

Saturday’s matchup with Bradley started off looking like another instant classic. There were nine lead changes in the first eight minutes of the game with the largest only being three points. A 9-0 run by the Braves followed by a scoring drought lasting over three minutes caused the game to slow down. UNI scored with 7:27 remaining to cut the lead down to five before Bradley went on a 13-8 run to end the half leading 37-27.

The Panthers came out strong in the second half but it was never quite enough. At the 10 minute mark, UNI cut the lead down to just two points. An ensuing missed layup by Tytan Anderson that would’ve tied the game seemed to be the beginning of the end for the Panthers. UNI was never able to put together a complete run and couldn’t get a lead throughout the second half. Bradley ultimately won, 77-69.

James Betz led the Panthers in both scoring with 16 points and rebounds with six. Michael Duax also had a good game with 14 points. This was his fifth straight game with double digit scoring. UNI struggled to defend the three point shot against Bradley as they gave up 16 threes on 26 attempts.

UNI Head Coach Ben Jacobson mentioned a lack of aggressiveness in the first half that led to a lot of open 3-pointers. “We’re playing good basketball, just not good enough basketball,” said Coach Jacobson when asked about the recent losing streak. 

The Panthers now have a record of 12-12 with an 8-6 conference record. UNI will look to get back on track this Wednesday, Feb. 8, as they travel to Evansville, Ind. to play the Purple Aces. UNI beat the Purple Aces back in December, 72-55. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and the game can be streamed on ESPN+.