UNI drops regular season finale to Bruins



Landon Wolf (3) scored a career-high 21 points in UNI’s 83-75 Senior Day loss against Belmont.

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

Despite a career-high 21 points from Landon Wolf, the UNI men’s basketball team was unable to win its regular season finale against Belmont, falling 83-75 on Senior Day.

UNI came into the game 13-16 overall and 9-10 in the conference. Belmont came into the game 20-10 and 13-6 in conference play during their first year in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The two teams played on Jan. 14 in Nashville, Tenn., a game that saw Belmont escape with a 76-72 win.

UNI came out firing in this one, as they quickly took a seven-point lead at 13-6 on the first of three 3-pointers for Wolf. The Bruins quickly raced back to tie the game at 13. Wolf answered with another three to regain the lead at 16-13. Belmont took their first lead of the game at 18-17 just before the 12-minute mark of the first half. UNI responded with an 8-0 run to take a 25-18 lead. Once again, though, Belmont answered with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the game. This is how the half continued to flow, with UNI again going up by seven, but Belmont answering by roaring back to take a 38-36 lead into halftime.

To start off the second half, Michael Duax quickly tied the game at 38 on a layup. However, Belmont started to pull away, going on a 21-4 run over the next six minutes to take a 17-point, 59-42 lead. This was Belmont’s biggest lead of the game, and it seemed like Belmont might run away with this one. The Panthers were not done yet, however, and tied the game over the next seven minutes with a 23-6 run of their own. This knotted the score up at 65 points apiece with just over five minutes to play. Belmont closed the game with excellent free throw shooting, though, and soon rebuilt a 10-point, 79-69 lead. Ege Peksari hit a late three to give the final score of 83-75 Belmont.

UNI was led in scoring by Wolf, who finished with a career-high 21 points on seven-of-13 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Duax contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. Trey Campbell added six points while leading the team in assists with three and tying Duax for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Bowen Born struggled from the field offensively, shooting two-of-10 from the floor, but was perfect from the line on six-of-six shooting en route to 11 points. Drew Daniel also added the most points he’s scored this season since the opener against Wartburg on a trio of 3-pointers for nine points. Tytan Anderson scored six points and grabbed six boards. Belmont was led in scoring by Ja’Kobi Gillespie off the bench with 24 points.

The loss means that UNI has received the eight-seed in the MVC tournament, better known as Arch Madness, this week in St. Louis. They will face the nine-seed, the Illinois State Redbirds, on Thursday. UNI swept the season series with the Redbirds. If they win, they will face the top-seeded Bradley Braves, who clinched the MVC regular season championship with a win on Sunday over Drake. Belmont moved up to the four-seed and will face the winner of Indiana State and Evansville.

UNI’s game against Illinois State is at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 2. If they win, the next game against Bradley is Friday at noon. Both of those games will be streaming on ESPN+. The semifinals will be on Saturday, televised on the CBS Sports Network, and the championship game is on Sunday, airing nationally on CBS.