UNI falls in first round of MVC Tournament - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI falls in first round of MVC Tournament

The University of Northern Iowa Men's Basketball team used strong defense to build an early lead over the Illinois State Redbirds at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, but a strong second half from the Redbirds put to rest the Panthers' hopes of an MVC crown.

UNI showed its defensive prowess early in the first half, holding the Redbirds to just four points through the first five minutes of the game. But UNI had its own problems putting the ball in the hoop, as a Johnny Moran 3-pointer was the only field goal the Panthers could manage through the first four minutes of play.

Long-range shooting was a theme for UNI in the first half, as Moran, Jake Koch, and Marc Sonnen combined for five 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

Koch and Redbird Senior Jackie Carmichael put their tournament experience on display throughout the first half, as Koch totaled nine points and three rebounds in the first frame, while Carmichael exploded for seven points and nine rebounds right out of the gate.

After a back and forth effort through the first 20 minutes, UNI held onto a 25-21 lead at the break.

In the second half, ISU used a 6-2 run to knot the game up at 27-27, before a Chip Rank lay in gave the Panthers a 29-27 lead.

But Illinois State quickly gained momentum on the Panthers, thanks in large part to a monster dunk from Carmichael, which put the Redbirds ahead 34-31 at the 12-minute mark in the second half.

The Redbirds continued to pull away late in the second half after two big blocks from Carmichael. The Panthers could only manage 12 points through the first 13 minutes of the second frame, and ISU led 40-37 with seven minutes remaining.

Illinois State built their largest lead of the game after a Nic Moore layup put the Redbirds up 44-37 with just four minutes left in the game.

From that point, it was all just a matter of time, as Illinois State ran away with the second half, and finished off the Panthers by a final of 54-42.

Moran led the way for UNI with 13 points, and was the only Panther in double digit scoring. Koch couldn't put any points on the board in the second half, but nearly finished with a double double with nine points and eight rebounds.

Carmichael led the Redbirds in four categories, finishing with 16 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks, and two assists.

The Panthers' record now stands at 19-13 on the season, and they can only hope for the NIT, CBI, or CIT Tournament to come calling, if they want a chance for their season to continue.

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