Women’s basketball eyes top of MVC in 2018-19


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Empty college bleachers will fill up as students turn out to watch the start of the women’s basketball season.

The UNI women’s basketball team has had success in the last ten years making the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons.

Head coach Tanya Warren is the longest tenured coach in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) for men’s or women’s basketball and holds the UNI record for all-time wins. Warren looks to top the MVC after a phenomenal season last year with four returning starters, losing only one player to graduation.

Returning starters from last year’s rotation includes Ellie Howell, Mikaela Morgan, Rose Simon-Ressler and Megan Maahs.

Maahs, a junior named to the MVC all-conference and all-defensive team last season, looks to dominate in the paint as UNI’s starting center. She made 33 starts as a sophomore and hopes to make a major impact this season.

Maahs led the conference in rebounds (322) and double-doubles (12) last season; the most double-doubles by a women’s basketball player at UNI since the 2003-2004 season.

Another key returning starter is senior guard Mikaela Morgan. She made starts in 30 games last season and brings experience and high caliber defensive play to a young evolving team.

All-MVC honorable mention Ellie Howell returns to the guard position and was named to the all-MVC preseason team. She played the most minutes for the Panthers last season with 30.1 minutes a game.

The Panthers managed to obtain three hometown athletes in the recruiting class of 2018. Kiana Barney, Cynthia Wolf and Kam Finley all attended Cedar Falls High School, making the short trip over to the UNI campus.

Barney was a four time all-metro, three-time Iowa Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA), all-region and two-time all Mississippi Valley Conference honoree for the Cedar Falls Tigers.

Wolf also had an outstanding prep career at Cedar Falls while playing the center position as a three-time all-metro player and two-time all-conference honoree.

Finley joins her former teammates from Cedar Falls on UNI’s team this season.

After transferring from Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Finley finished her prep career at Cedar Falls, where she earned first and second team conference honors. She also surpassed the 1,000-point mark as a senior and finished at 1,141 career points.

The Panthers also recruited out of state athlete Alyssa Iverson from Chicago. Iverson led her team to four conference titles and four regional titles with a 105-25 record in her prep career.

UNI, who has finished as runner-up at the last three MVC tournaments, was picked to finish second once again this season behind in-state rival Drake. The Panthers will take the court against the Upper Iowa Peacocks on Sunday, Nov. 4,  at home for an exhibition game.

The purple and gold, who participated in last year’s Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), will open up the regular season competition in the Preseason WNIT against the Delaware Blue Hens and Creighton Bluejays on Nov. 9 and Nov. 20, respectively. UNI will also appear in the Beach Classic, hosted in Long Beach, California, where they will play against Long Beach State 49ers and Boise State Broncos.

Through the end of November and December, the Panthers will take on non-conference opponents such as the in-state rival Iowa Hawkeyes on the road, and the Kansas State Wildcats of the Big 12. MVC games will be the deciding factor for success this season when they begin in January. The MVC tournament will be held Mar. 14-17 at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline, IL.