UNI men split conference games

ELIOT CLOUGH, Sports Editor

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In the storied history of UNI men’s basketball, there have been times where Panther fans have been plagued with anxiety. This season has been no different.

In their last nine conference matchups, the outcome was decided by an average of five points.

Two recent contests included a 60-61 loss to current Missouri Valley Conference leader Loyola Chicago on Wednesday evening and a win in the McLeod Center on Saturday night versus  Missouri State University ,64-59.

Although the Panthers fell into 12-3 hole early on, they clawed back up for the majority of their matchup with the Ramblers, and the purple and gold looked to have control of the game.

Over the course of the first contest, Luke McDonnell led the way for UNI, scoring a personal best of 16 points, going 7-12 from the field and 2-3 from deep.

The Panthers’ leading scorer, AJ Green, also added 14 points to their final score.

Down the stretch, as the Ramblers gradually regained the lead, a clear discrepancy in foul calling may have had an effect on the final score of the game. Loyola was only called for four fouls the entirety of the contest while UNI was called for 18.

Ultimately, with less than a minute remaining and holding onto a one-point lead, the Ramblers were  able to hit a dagger of a three pointer to seal the win. Cameron Krutwig of Loyola hit the tray. This was Krutwig’s first made three pointer of the 22 games the Ramblers have played so far this season.

In the Panthers home contest with the Bears, depth from the bench, as well as starting talent, was showcased.

Spencer Haldeman, who has played hero for the cats as of late, came off the bench to lead the Panthers in scoring with 15 in the second half.

One of the biggest plays for Haldeman came with 11:39 to go in the game, as he was able to execute a four-point play, drilling a three as he was fouled.

“I saw [the defender] kind of hesitate going to the screen a little bit, so when someone goes under a screen, you’ve got to take advantage of it, and I shot it,” said Haldeman post game.

Isaiah Brown and McDonnell each added 12 to the final tally for the Panthers.

While McDonell aided the winning effort on the offensive side of the ball, the 6’9 center was also tasked with guarding the Bears’ most talented scorer in Tulio Da Silva. Da Silva puts up 14.8 points per game.

“[Our] coaches talked about staying down on the shot fake. And then going against [Seth] Tuttle every day in practice, I mean, not everyone gets the chance to play against an All-American every day in practice. So, that’s tough assignment as it is. So that helped prepare a ton,” said McDonnell on the task of guarding Da Silva.

Tuttle is a graduate assistant on staff with the Panthers and played under Coach Jacobson from 2011-2015. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in his tenure with the Panthers.

Da Silva (17) and Keandre Cook (15) were the only Bears who were able to score in double figures.

Up next, the Panthers will take on the Bradley University Braves at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in  the McLeod Center.

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