A 21-2 first-half run sparked the Northern Iowa men’s basketball team to a 15-point lead and eventual 61-58 win over SMU Wednesday in the Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinals in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
The Panthers (4-1) trailed 14-10 before scoring 21 of the next 23 points and leading 31-23 at halftime.
UNI grew the lead to 13 in the second half, but SMU (4-1) climbed within a point twice. The Panthers never trailed in the second half, though, and advanced to the semifinals at 2 p.m. Thursday against North Carolina State (ESPN2).
The Wolfpack (5-0) upset No. 4 Arizona, 90-84 Wednesday. Tennessee (3-0) and No. 3 Villanova (4-0) will square off in the other semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Thursday (ESPN).
Spencer Haldeman made 4 of 8 3-point attempts and led UNI with 15 points. He was joined in double figures by Bennett Koch (12), Tywhon Pickford (11) and Juwan McCloud (10). Pickford, Koch and Klint Carlson combined for 25 rebounds.
Koch made a layup after the Mustangs cut it to 51-50 with 7:47 left, then after SMU answered with a Jarrey Foster dunk on the next possession, Koch hit two free throws and McCloud buried a jumper to put UNI up five.