FINAL: UNI Panthers take down Wyoming 71-54 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

FINAL: UNI Panthers take down Wyoming 71-54

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The Panthers on offense against Wyoming in Seattle on Friday, March 20. (Brad Hanson, KWWL) The Panthers on offense against Wyoming in Seattle on Friday, March 20. (Brad Hanson, KWWL)
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SEATTLE (KWWL) - Great defense, selfless play and a great Seth Tuttle have helped the UNI Panthers to a 30-3 season and a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament -- and it helped them easily take down Wyoming.

The UNI Panthers made their first appearance today in the NCAA tournament since 2010. And much like last time, they'll be playing in the round of 32.

Wyoming lead for just one minute in this game. They lead 9-8 with 15 minutes to play in the first half. After the Panthers took the lead, they never gave it back.

They took a 35-24 lead, and only saw that lead dip into single digits once in the second half.

It took Wyoming five minutes into the second half to score their first field goal, but it opened up the Mike Nance, Jr. floodgates. Nance, Wyoming's leading scorer, had just one point in the first half. He then went scored 13 straight points for the Cowboys, and they cut the lead to seven.

During that stretch, UNI turned the ball over three times and went on a more than three-minute scoring drought.

But the Panthers, led by Wes Washpun, stemmed the tide and slowed down the Cowboys. Paul Jesperson hit a three to stretch the lead back to 10, then Washpun scored 8 of the next 11 Panther points to remove all doubt.

Five Panthers scored in the double digits, led by Paul Jesperson, who scored 16. Overall, the Panthers bench outscored the Wyoming bench, 41-2.

Both teams shot 46 percent from the field, and UNI shot 50 percent from behind the arc, compared to Wyoming's 41 percent. The Panthers also outpaced the Cowboys at the line, shooting 16-of-18 compared to 3-of-9.

Next up, UNI will face off against the Louisville Cardinals Sunday at Key Arena in Seattle. The game will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Iowa Hawkeye game, which starts at 6:10 p.m. CST.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

In the first half of Friday's game against the Wyoming Cowboys, all those were on display.

Despite a 2-of-13 drought to end the first half, the Panthers took an 11-point lead into the locker room.

Tuttle lead the Panthers with 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Wyoming's Charles Hankerson Jr., who averaged just six a game during the regular season, hit four three's, including a contested three at the buzzer, to give him 12 points.

The game featured three ties and two lead changes in the early on, and it looked to be a back-and-forth battle.

But then the Panthers put together a 10-0 run to give them the 18-9 lead.

Both teams started out shooting the ball incredibly well, but both fell into a funk late in the second.

Going into the half, UNI had missed 11 of their last 13 shots. And before Hankerson hit the three at the buzzer, Wyoming went through a more than three-minute scoring drought.

UNI shot 42.9 percent in the first half, including 50 percent from behind the arc. Wyoming also shot 42.9 percent from the field, with 40 percent shooting from behind the arc.

UNI forced seven Wyoming turnovers, while only turning the ball over three times themselves.

As we head into the second half, things look good for the Panthers on the foul front. Jeremy Morgan was the only player with two fouls, and nobody else has more than one. 

Wyoming's Larry Nance, Jr. and Derek Cooke, Jr. both have two fouls.

Check back for more after the game, including reaction from the coach and players.

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