UNI defeats Salukis, goes 1-1

COLIN HORNING, Sports Writer

The UNI women were victorious last Friday against the Southern Illinois Salukis in the McLeod Center, 65-53. The Panthers lead 31-23 at halftime in part because of their 47 percent shooting at the break.

Ellie Howell shot 6-11 from the field and led all Panther players with 18 points along with four steals for the game. Mikaela Morgan added 12 points and four assists and Karli Rucker had 11 points and six rebounds for UNI, who went to 13-7 and 5-2 in conference play.

Makenzie Silvey of Southern Illinois lead all scorers in the game with 20 points.

Following their matchup with the Salukis, UNI took to the court Sunday afternoon for a back-and-forth affair with another Missouri Valley Conference rival, but the Panthers ultimately were bested by Missouri State University, 63-58.

The Lady Bears remain a perfect 9-0 in MVC play (13-7 overall), while UNI fell to 6-3 (13-8 overall). Karli Rucker led the Panthers in scoring with 11 points, followed by Bre Gunnels with 9. Howell and Cynthia Wolf both had 7 points each.

The Panthers maintained a slight lead throughout the first quarter, topped off by a Wolf layup with seconds remaining in the period, giving UNI a 19-16 lead after one.

The first half was rather fast-paced on both sides, with each team quickly moving the ball up the floor.

Offensively, UNI focused more on the three-point shot while Missouri State made an effort to work the ball inside and get looks at the rim. UNI took 11 three pointers in the first half (7-29 for the game) to Missouri State’s five (0-10 for the game).

Rucker went coast-to-coast for a layup with around 30 seconds left in the half to put the Panthers up 33-29 at the intermission, getting a rise out of the McLeod Center crowd.

UNI shot a blistering 50 percent from the field in the first half, while Missouri State shot an ice-cold 29 percent.

The Panthers opened up a six point lead following a Heidi Hillyard three pointer with 3:15 to go in the third, prompting a timeout from Missouri State.

MSU was able to make some defensive adjustments and were able to walk away with a one point at the end of the quarter, 48-47.

The Lady Bears lead by as much as eight points in the fourth quarter and were able to close out the game with some timely free-throw shooting.

UNI’s miscues were ultimately a factor in the loss to the conference opponent, with 13 offensive rebounds leading to 17 second-chance points.

The Panthers also committed 24 turnovers in the game, which led to 14 Missouri State points.

Up next, the Panthers will play three consecutive road games vs. Loyola-Chicago, Valparaiso and Drake before returning home to the McLeod Center on Friday, Feb. 22 against Indiana State.