Men’s basketball found their rhythm



Juwan McCloud (13) takes the open look and shoots from downtown. The men’s basketball team have not won three games in a row since the very beginning of the season.

DYLAN PADY, Sports Editor | [email protected]

The UNI men’s basketball team has just achieved their third consecutive victory, after beating Loyola in double overtime with a final score of 72-69. Then, the Panthers hit the road and won in Southern Illinois against the Salukis with a much closer final score of 58-57.

The Panthers were ready to host the Loyola Ramblers in Cedar Falls, as 3,934 fans packed into the McLeod Center last Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The first half saw under 50 percent shooting from both teams. Loyola was shooting around 48 percent compared to UNI’s 40 percent going into halftime. A notable difference would be the teams’ assists and turnovers.

The Panthers had four assists and seven turnovers, Loyola had the same amount of turnovers but recorded eight assists before halftime. The Ramblers then nearly doubled UNI’s three-point shooting in the first half, as they went 6-13 from downtown, shooting a good 46 percent.

In the second half, the charity stripe became a point of emphasis for the Panthers, who actually only had one free throw in the first half. After the break, UNI came out with an aggressive, inside offensive approach and drew a lot of fouls, resulting in an 11-12 half at the free throw line for UNI. Comparatively, the Ramblers scored zero free throws in the second half.

UNI’s 11 free throws almost matched their field goal scoring during the second half, as the Panthers were only able to knock down 8-22 from the field; 2-6 were from downtown.

In both overtimes, the Panthers got 12 of their 17 shots to go in from the free throw line. They would finish the game with 24 total points from the charity stripe. UNI’s success came from attacking the inside paint and drawing the foul.

By the end of the game, the Panthers were shooting 21-55 with the midrange jumper and inside layups. They also finished 6-20 from three-point territory. Perhaps winning the free throw game made up for their three-point shooting.

In their away game against the Southern Illinois Salukis on Jan. 21, UNI walked away with a one point victory, 58-57.

This was a much better shooting night for the Panthers — Jordan Ashton finished 5-8, two of which were from downtown. Bennett Koch finished 5-9 from the field and recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Klint Carlson then went 4-10 in field goal shooting and also made two from deep. Three more rebounds for Carlson would have earned him a double-double as well — he finished the night with 10 points.

Southern Illinois had six more offensive rebounds than UNI, but the Panthers controlled the defensive glass with four more rebounds than the Salukis. This game did not see as many points coming from the charity stripe, UNI shot 8-10 of their free throws and Southern Illinois went 6-10.

The game-winning points came from Ashton, who sunk his last two free throws with just 15 seconds left to put UNI up 58-57. After Ashton took the lead, Southern Illinois made some adjustments on the floor. Mike Rodriguez then attempted to put the “nail in the coffin” and, with two seconds left, missed the game winning three.

After Carlson grabbed the final rebound of the night, the Panthers walked away victorious.

UNI is now 8-11 on the season and 3-5 in the MVC, they are 5-3 at home and 1-6 on the road. This week, the Panthers’ first game will be on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in Cedar Falls against Evansville University.

Following the Evansville game, the men’s team will travel to Des Moines to take on Drake University on Saturday, Jan. 28. The Bulldogs just lost their most recent contest to Illinois State, 72-58.

That loss put Drake’s record at 6-14. Earlier this season when UNI played Drake, the Panthers finished strong with a 79-60 victory.

With only 10 games left in the regular season, the Panthers will look to further their win streak and hone their post-season skills as the State Farm MVC Tournament, as well as a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament lurk around the corner.