The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Panthers avenge loss and defeat Braves

The Panthers meet for a huddle in the middle of a game.

The UNI men’s basketball team used a hot start on offense and a physical effort on defense to earn a big conference win over Bradley, avenging a late January loss. 

“UNI was a better team today,” Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said. “They came out and were real physical with us offensively. We knew what they were going to do defensively, they just executed very well.” 

The Panthers brought the energy early, getting out to a 12-6 lead at the first media timeout. Five different players scored in the first four minutes of the game. The Panthers kept packing on the lead, shooting 51.7% from the field in the first half. UNI dominated Bradley on the boards 19-13, allowing for little-to-no second chance opportunities. After 20 minutes of play, the Panthers led the Braves 44-26. 

The second half was tough sledding for the Panther offense. After shooting lights out in the first half, UNI made just five field goals in the last 20 minutes, shooting at a 22.7% efficiency. While the Panthers struggled to put the ball in the basket, Bradley’s shooters got hot. An 18-point halftime lead was cut down to just four points with eight minutes remaining in the game. The free-throw line is what kept the Panthers rolling. Converting on 24-27 attempts and on 88.9% efficiency, pivotal free throws were made down the stretch to distance the Panthers from the Braves in the end. 

UNI saw tremendous production out of their bench players. The Panther bench outscored the Braves bench 19-2. Three-point shooting was also an important aspect of the Panthers win, nailing home 10 3-pointers, good enough for 41.7%. Both teams committed 13 turnovers. 

Panther center Jacob Hutson led UNI in scoring with 14 points, including going 8-8 from the charity stripe, which was a career high. Hutson brought the intensity all day for the Panthers, drawing multiple fouls on Bradley’s big men. 

Bowen Born tacked on 12 points and three steals. With his 12-point performance, Born surpassed the 1,400 career point threshold, moving into 10th place on the program’s all-time scoring list and passing Robbie Sieverding (1998-2002) with 1,405 points. He also sits two 3-point field goals away from 200 in his career, a milestone only six other UNI players have reached.  

UNI junior Tytan Anderson notched a double-double, compiling 10 points and 12 rebounds along with four assists. Nate Heise added 11 points including three long balls. While his stat line might not be eye-popping, freshman RJ Taylor provided quality minutes for the Panthers. Taylor committed zero turnovers as the primary ball handler and provided excellent defense on an experienced Bradley backcourt. Trey Campbell and Landon Wolf had eight points a piece. 

For Bradley, junior guard Connor Hickman led the way with 22 points, including multiple second-half threes that were banked in. Malevy Leons contributed 16 points and five boards and 5’8” guard Duke Deen finished with 11 points. Darius Hannah added 10 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes of action. 

This win was UNI’s first victory over Bradley since Feb. 2, 2022, snapping a four-game losing streak against the Braves. The win also pulled UNI within a game of tying the all-time series record against the Braves. Bradley currently owns the series lead over UNI at 38-37. 

Looking ahead, the Panthers only have four regular season games remaining. All four games are conference opponents. UNI will take on the Illinois State Redbirds on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be watched on ESPN2 and listened to on the Panther Sports Radio Network. The Panthers come back home for an in-state rivalry game vs. the Drake Bulldogs on Saturday, Feb. 24. Drake sits atop of the Missouri Valley Conference with a 22-5 record with hopes of getting into the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Valparaiso comes to town on Feb 27., a team the Panthers defeated on Valentine’s Day 86-67. To close out the season, the Panthers head east to play Southern Illinois in a game that will likely have conference tournament seeding implications. The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament takes place March 7-10 in St. Louis. 

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