The University of Northern Iowa women's basketball team was able to cut a 20-point Illinois State lead in half, but the Panthers were unable to pull any closer in a 67-55 loss to the Redbirds Sunday afternoon in the McLeod Center.
Lizzie Boeck led UNI (6-13, 4-5) with 17 points and seven rebounds. Indy Uhlenhopp scored 14 points for the Panthers, and Kim Wypiszynski added 14. Kristi Cirone led Illinois State (17-4, 8-1) with 18 points, and Ashleen Bracey finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for ISU. After trailing by six early, Nicole Clausen hit a mid-range jumper at 11:39 to pull UNI within four, 11-7. The Redbirds rattled off 12 unanswered points over the next three minutes to extend their lead to 23-7 with 8:21 on the clock. Kim Wypiszynski ended the ISU run with a three on the left baseline, and Indy Uhlenhopp scored in the lane to bring the score to 23-12. Illinois State scored the game's next seven points, however, building a 30-12 advantage at 5:10. Uhlenhopp scored six straight points for the Panthers to cut the ISU lead to 30-18 with 1:51 left in the period. Illinois State scored the final five points of the half, however, to take a 35-18 lead into the locker room. Wypiszynski scored for the Panthers on their first possession of the second half to make it a 15-point game. The Redbirds continued to add to their lead, however, and at 17:10 Maggie Krick hit a three that gave ISU a 44-24 lead. The Panthers chipped away, and Uhlenhopp hit a three at 10:52 that made it a 13-point contest, 46-33. Cirone answered with a three on ISU's next trip down the floor. ISU continued to widen the gap, and at 7:11, Brea Banks hit a jumper that put the Redbirds in front, 56-38. Wypiszynski hit a pair of free throws and Katelin Oney hit a three to cut the ISU advantage to 13. Boeck answered a Emily Hanley free throw with a layup and a short jumper on back-to-back possessions to cap a 9-1 run by UNI and cut the Redbird lead to 10, 57-47 with 4:58 on the clock. ISU responded with a basket from Ashleen Bracey. Clausen pulled UNI back within 10 with a pair of free throws, but once again, ISU scored on its next possession to extend its lead back to a dozen, 61-49 with 3:44 remaining. Boeck scored in the paint with 3:10 on the clock to bring it back to a 10-point contest, but the Redbirds rattled off the next six points to stretch their lead to 67-51 with 1:51 remaining. Boeck and Wypiszynski scored within the final minute to bring the final score to 67-55. UNI shot 20-of-56 (35.7 percent) from the floor, including 4-of-20 (20 percent) from three-point range. The Panthers were 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) from the free-throw line. The Redbirds finished 26-of-59 (44.1 percent) from the floor, including 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from behind the arc. ISU shot 10-of-14 (71.4 percent) from the free-throw line. The Panthers return to action on Thursday when they play at Evansville.