Panthers secure 3-seed at MVC Tournament



The UNI women’s basketball team had their Senior Day on Saturday, defeating Missouri State 86-67 to secure the three-seed at MVC Tournament. After the game, senior players Cynthia Wolf and Kam Finley, both Cedar Fall natives, were recognized.

BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI women’s basketball team finished the regular season strong, ending on a three-game winning streak including two wins last week. On Thursday, March 2, the Panthers met up with the Southern Illinois Salukis in the McLeod Center followed by Senior Day against the Lady Bears out of Missouri State.

The Panthers started off a bit slow in a tightly contested first quarter against the Salukis. UNI was able to get a small lead that they held for almost all of the quarter until the final minute. A late Maya McDermott 3-pointer gave UNI a two-point lead, 17-15. 

A quick 12-4 run to start the second quarter, including two Kam Finley 3-pointers, gave the Panthers a 10-point lead. Later in the quarter, UNI gave up a 15-4 run giving Southern Illinois a two-point lead. After trading a few shots, Finley hit a last second shot to tie the game at 39-39 entering halftime. Finley had 10 points in the quarter.

UNI once again started strong with a 10-0 run to start the second half. The Panthers held as much as an 11-point lead, but after giving up another scoring run, 10-2, saw their lead fall to just three points. A short 5-0 run ended the quarter with UNI up 63-55. The Panther lead held strong throughout the fourth quarter as the Salukis weren’t able to cut into the deficit. UNI rode the momentum to a nine point win, 85-76.

Grace Boffeli played an excellent game with her 13th double-double of the season as she led the Panthers in both points and rebounds with 21 and 11, respectively. Finley had a great game with 17 points, while McDermott and Emerson Green both finished with 15. As a team, UNI shot a blistering 61% from behind the three-point line.

Senior Day was another successful outing for UNI, and it started on an emotional note. Cynthia Wolf, a senior who recently suffered a season-ending knee injury, was allowed to dress, start and score for a final time in front of her home crowd.

Against Missouri State, the Panthers quickly found themselves down by six just over a minute in the game. UNI responded by outscoring the Lady Bears 22-13 over the remainder of the quarter to lead 24-21.

After a fast 9-0 run to start the second quarter, the Panthers led by 12. The Lady Bears then went on a 9-0 run of their own to trail by three at the halfway point in the quarter. Some back-and-forth scoring to finish the half left UNI with a six point lead at halftime, 41-35.

The Panthers outscored the Lady Bears 21-10 in the third quarter including an 11-4 run over the last four minutes. Green provided a lot of scoring with 12 points in the quarter alone. UNI was able to coast through the fourth quarter with their lead growing to as high as 23 points. The Panthers won the game 86-67.

Although it was Senior Day, Green, a sophomore, stole the show with team-highs in points as well as rebounds, finishing with 24 and nine. Boffeli finished with 12 points while McDermott finished with 11.

UNI’s two seniors, Finley and Wolf, end their final regular season on a three-game winning streak and enter the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as the three-seed. The Panthers will play the winner of the matchup between 11th-seeded Valparaiso and sixth-seeded UIC at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 10. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.