UNI batters the Rams in WNIT opener, falls to Cornhuskers



Emerson Green (4) totaled 19 points in UNI’s 88-76 victory over Colorado State in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday.

CADEN SHEA, Sports Editor

The UNI Panthers are off to a great start as they take on the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). UNI battled the Colorado State Rams in the first round of action on their homecourt in Cedar Falls. In the second round on March 19, the Panthers lost to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Neb. 

The Panthers defeated the Rams in spectacular fashion in their first round. The Panthers handled Colorado State with ease as they defeated their opponent 88-76. The Panthers played excellent defense in their attempt to win the tournament. Defense is something that the Panthers have greatly improved upon throughout the season and it will continue to improve as they make their way through the postseason. Grace Boffeli excelled once again as she accomplished her 15th double-double of the season, nabbing a season-high 15 rebounds and securing 16 points. 

The Panthers started the game on fire from behind the arc, making three 3-pointers within the first five minutes of play. The Panthers were the commanders of the pace early on, forcing the Rams to play catch up. The Rams would battle back and forth with the Panthers but UNI would finish the quarter on top 24-21. 

The second quarter would be the best period for the Panthers. The Panthers went 100% from three in this quarter, showcasing their offensive prowess against the Rams. The Panthers struck with everything they had and then some. The defense was one of the key contributors for the Panthers’ success in this quarter. They held the Rams to a mere two points in the last three minutes of the quarter. The Panthers finished the half on top, 56-37.

The Panthers attempted to slow the pace in the second half. Neither team could get anything to fall at first in the third quarter but that would change thanks to a 3-pointer by Emerson Green. The two teams would duel it out this quarter as the Rams looked to close UNI’s lead to no avail. The Panthers went into the fourth quarter with a 75-58 lead. 

The Panthers were on defensive mode in the fourth quarter as they looked to remain in firm control of the game as they had the previous 30 minutes of play. The team worked together to close out the last couple scoring barrages of the Rams and finish the game with a dominant score of 88-76. 

Besides Boffeli’s double-double, there were many other notable performances in the game. Maya McDermott went five-for-six from behind the arc and finished with a game-high 21 points. Kam Finley had 19 points and Green had 17. McDermott also led the team in assists with five. 

Their next opponent, the Cornhuskers, came into the game with a regular season record of 17-14 while the Panthers with 23-9. The Cornhuskers are led by Australian guard Jaz Shelley who averages 14.6 points, 6.1 assists and over one steal per game. Nebraska knocked off Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) team Missouri State in the first round, making this their second MVC opponent in just as many games. 

This loss marks the end of a fantastic season for the Panthers. Nebraska’s win means that they will continue their journey in the WNIT in the Super 16 where they will face the winner of Missouri and Kansas.