The UNI Women’s basketball team cruised past Valparaiso University as well as University of Loyola Chicago to continue their undefeated run in the McLeod Center.
It was a close battle at the end of the first quarter as the Vals led 23-20 on Friday. Following the first quarter, the Panthers stepped up and made a major effort on defense. The purple and gold held the Crusaders to a total of 13 between the second and third quarters.
Although Valparaiso made the first bucket in the third quarter, the Panthers caught a rhythm on offense in the third quarter with 21 unanswered points, propelling them to victory.
Senior Mikaela Morgan would finish the night with 15 points and was 6-12 from the field. She also added four rebounds by the end of the night. Sophomore guard Karli Rucker had a good game on the offensive side of the ball, with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Shooting in the second half also gave the Panthers a boost. Field goal percentage for the Panthers increased from 34 percent in the first half to 53 percent in the second half of play. Turnovers were also a large factor in UNI’s win, as the Panthers were able to force a total of 22.
On Sunday, Rucker scored big in the Panthers most recent win at home versus Loyola, netting 23 points for the UNI women. Rucker was nine for 16 from the field.
The Panthers started strong, leading Loyola 22-12 after one quarter.
The Ramblers attempted to cut the deficit down in the second quarter, coming back and making the score 32-26 with the Panthers leading into half time.
The Ramblers could not stop the purple and gold in the second half, allowing the Panthers to go on a 9-0 run in the third to extend the lead into the fourth quarter.
Following the push by UNI, Loyola fought back with a run of their own, going on an 8-1 run. If any thoughts of a come back sprouted, it was immediately thwarted due to a three-pointer by Ellie Howell.
Howell went on to finish the game with 11 points and four rebounds. Morgan finished the game 5-5 from the field, with one three pointer and two free throws resulting in a total of 13 points.
While Morgan may be most well known for her defense, the excellent play by the shooting guard will surely help down the stretch.
Up next, the Panthers will take on the Bulldogs of Drake University at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18.