Cedar Falls, Iowa - The University of Northern Iowa men's basketball team shot an amazing 70.5 percent from the field, including 81.8 percent in the first half, as it won its fourth straight game with a 78-64 victory over Missouri State tonight at the McLeod Center.
The Panthers made 31-of-44 shots from the floor for the game, with its 70.5 field goal percentage being the second-best in school history and the eighth-best field goal percentage in Missouri Valley Conference history. UNI's school record is 73.2 percent (30-for-41), set against Cleveland State on Mar. 6, 1986 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. In addition, the Panthers' 14-for-18 field goal effort in the first half tonight (81.8 percent) was the school's best-ever shooting performance for one half, and the fourth-best in Valley annals.
Four Panthers scored in double-figures, led by forward Adam Koch's career-high 22 poins. Koch also grabbed a team-best 11 rebounds to rack up his third double-double of the season. Joining Koch in double-digit scoring were center Jordan Eglseder (16 points) and guards Ali Farokhmanesh (13) and Kwazdo Ahelegbe (10).
The Panthers, who never trailed in the game, went inside often to start the contest. Ahelegbe got free for a back-door layup to start the game, and Eglseder had a pair of dunks, as the Panthers built a 9-2 lead at the first media timeout. Missouri State was able to get within 17-13, but the Panthers got a layup from Eglseder and a three-pointer from Farokhmanesh to extend to a 22-13 edge. The Bears got as close as six, 26-20, but UNI then went on an 11-2 run to open its largest first-half lead, 37-22. UNI went into the locker room with a 41-27 edge.
Missouri State made its first six shots of the second half, getting eight points from Wade Knapp, to cut the Panthers' advantage to 47-40 at the first media timeout. But Ahelegbe got inside for a layup and Farokhmanesh buried a three, stopping MSU's run. The Panthers held a double-digit lead the final eight minutes of the game, opening as much as a 21-point cushion, to cruise to the victory.
UNI shared the ball effectively, with 17 assists as a team. Johnny Moran led the way with a career-high tying five, while Koch and Ahelegbe had four apiece. The Panthers also turned the ball over just seven times, its second-lowest total of the year.
The Panthers are now 10-6 overall, 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while Missouri State is 7-9 overall, 0-5 in the Valley. UNI heads to Evansville on Tuesday (Jan. 13), with tipoff from Roberts Stadium set for 7:05 pm.