Panthers fall to Redbirds, roll past Braves



Maya McDermott (0) finished with 16 points in UNI’s 76-50 win over Bradley on Saturday. McDermott made all four of her second half 3-pointers.

PAUL NOBLE, Sports Writer

The UNI women’s basketball team split a couple of games this past week. The Panthers lost on Thursday, 72-70, to conference-leading Illinois State before defeating Bradley on Saturday, 76-50.

The UNI game on Thursday was a big one. It was a battle for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Illinois State came into the McLeod Center tied with UNI atop the MVC standings. The Panthers were riding high on a five-game win streak, and the Redbirds had won 11 of their last 12 games.

The Panthers started slow, missing their first five shots from the field and turning the ball over twice before they finally got on the board at the six-minute mark thanks to a Maya McDermott 3-pointer. UNI struggled in the first quarter, falling behind 23-15, and only scored once in the final 2:20. The Panthers finished the first quarter shooting 21% from the floor.

In the second quarter, it looked like a three-point contest. There were six 3-pointers between the Redbirds and Panthers, each nailing three, respectively. The Panthers would get a few extra baskets to narrow the lead to four as the Redbirds led 34-30 at the half.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Panthers started hot. A layup by Kam Finley brought the Panthers within in one with 9:06 remaining. The teams would trade points before Emerson Green scored a bucket for the UNI women that tied the game at 39. Right when the Panthers thought they were back in it, the Redbirds went on an 11-2 run. The UNI women tried to fight and claw their way back but ultimately found themselves behind 55-48 to end the third. 

The final quarter was full of excitement. The UNI women would open the quarter on a 9-3 run capped off by a Finley jumper to bring the score within one with 7:05 remaining. UNI would continue its fourth quarter successes with a fast break layup by Green with 5:12 remaining. That gave the UNI women their first lead of the game at 63-62. Both teams would battle down the stretch, and the score ultimately became tied at 70. 

When the Redbirds made their way down the court with 30 seconds left, Paige Robinson missed a jumper with seven seconds remaining, but teammate Kate Bulbman was able to grab the offensive board and was fouled. Bulbman knocked down both free throws as the Redbirds took the lead 72-20 with seven seconds remaining. On the final possession, UNI put the ball in the hands of clutch shooter McDermott. Redbird defenders mobbed McDermott, and her shot came up short as time expired, giving the victory to the Redbirds.

The competition was much easier for the Panthers on Saturday, as they faced the 3-23 Bradley Braves. The Panthers started slow again, but it didn’t worry Head Coach Tanya Warren. “We just talked about how we don’t need to be up 10, 12, or 20 at the end of the first or second. We’ve just got to continue to do what we do and, in the end, wear them out,” Warren said. The Panthers actually found themselves behind 13-12 in the first quarter, but in the final three quarters, UNI would do what Coach Warren said they would do, wear them out. The Panthers shot 54% from the field in the last three quarters and outscored the Braves by 27 points, ultimately winning 76-50. 

Grace Boffeli and McDermott led the Panthers with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Many of the younger Panthers were also able to get valuable minutes and experience as well once the game became out of reach for the Braves.

UNI will hit the road next week, playing Belmont in Tennessee next Thursday before traveling to Kentucky on Saturday to play Murray State.