UNI ends year in the postseason again



The UNI women’s basketball team concluded another successful season this past weekend, falling to Nebraska in the WNIT, 77-57.

BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI women’s basketball team’s exciting season has come to a close following a second round loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the WNIT, 77-57. However, this will not be a season to forget with a number of miraculous shots and milestone victories.

The Panther’s 23-win season was highlighted with two close wins against in-state rival Drake. On Jan. 11, UNI found themselves trailing by nine points late in the game but a fourth quarter comeback left them in a position to win. The Bulldogs took the lead with four seconds remaining which was just enough time for Maya McDermott to hit a buzzer-beating game-winner to cap off a 19-point night for her and a 70-69 victory.

Exactly three weeks later, this time in Cedar Falls, the Panthers were again in a close game with the Bulldogs after holding a huge lead early. Once again, McDermott found the bottom of the net with a final shot to give UNI the season sweep of Drake with a 49-47 win. 

Head Coach Tanya Warren finished her 16th season with the Panthers and hit a new career milestone. The two-time Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Coach of the Year became the first UNI women’s coach to reach 300 wins with an 83-60 victory over Valparaiso in mid-February. She now boasts a career record of 306-211.

The UNI offense was impressive all season finishing second in the MVC in scoring with 74.6 points per game. They scored over 80 points 13 times throughout the season including hitting 90 points three times. 

A big help to the Panthers scoring was the combination of forward Grace Boffeli and McDermott at point guard. Boffeli put together an excellent season averaging over 16 points, sixth in the MVC, and nine rebounds which was first in the conference. This was good enough to earn her first team All-Conference honors.

McDermott made a huge leap from her freshman year, nearly tripling her points and assists per game as the Panthers starting point guard, finishing ninth in the MVC in both statistics. This led to her winning the MVC Most Improved Player award and a selection on the All-Conference second team.

Freshman Ryley Goebel was selected to the MVC All-Freshman team after a successful first season with the Panthers. Goebel led UNI in both steals and blocks and ranked in the top seven for both stats among all Missouri Valley players.

UNI finished with a 23-10 overall record with a 16-4 record in conference. The Panthers finished third in the MVC standings behind Illinois State and Belmont. In the postseason, UNI defeated UIC in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament before losing to the eventual runner-up Belmont in the semifinals.

The Panthers were one of four MVC teams to earn an invitation to the WNIT where they beat Colorado State 88-76 in the first round, before losing to Nebraska in the second round, bringing their season to an end.

UNI will look to build off this season and improve next year as they return three of their starters and 10 of 12 players all together. Only two seniors are leaving the team, guard Kam Finley and center Cynthia Wolf. Finley was a full-time starter during her final two years with the Panthers, averaging 10 points per game during those seasons. Wolf started every game for the Panthers this year up until an injury late in the season that put her out of action.

The Panthers will start back up in November looking for another successful season with their eyes on a conference title and more.