116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — A second-half comeback and career-high 30 points from Bowen Born gave Northern Iowa its first Division-I men’s basketball win of the season Saturday at McLeod Center, 83-76, over Northern Illinois.
Trailing by seven, five minutes into the second half, the Panthers (2-3) offense woke up from a mid-game drought and engineered a 14-2 run for a five-point lead with 9:37 to play.
Tytan Anderson — who was held to just four first-half points — poured in nine of his 16 during the run. Meanwhile, Born dished out all four of his assists during the comeback, including an alley-oop to Michael Duax and one of Landon Wolf’s three 3s.
“(Born) is super competitive,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “One, he puts in a lot of time, and he believes that it matters. So when he plays, he plays with a lot of confidence. Whatever the play is that’s in front of him — he gets 30 (points) — but there’s a stretch where he’s getting other guys shots. He isn’t out there trying to get 30. He’s out there doing everything he can to help our team play well.”
Armandus Plintauskas’ 3 with 2:07 remaining got the Huskies back within two, but a long jumper from Wolf on the Panthers’ following possession and seven free throws from Born squashed NIU’s hopes of a comeback.
“That was something we had not done the previous three games, really,” Born said of the Panthers closing out their win against NIU. “It was something we worked on in practice. It all basically comes down to one possession in those games that we weren’t able to execute, or finish, or rebound or whatever the situation was. It definitely feels good to feel like we’re learning and growing a little bit.”
Nine early first-half points from Born and seven from Wolf helped the Panthers build a 21-8 lead less than 12 minutes into the half. UNI held the Huskies to a 1-for-14 mark from the field during its game-opening run and forced seven Huskies turnovers.
NIU (2-5) got itself back in the game in the half’s next eight minutes, outscoring the Panthers 21-11 with a balanced attack that featured seven different scorers and a stingy defense that forced five UNI turnovers.
Shortly after halftime, the Huskies continued their comeback with an 18-4 run that bookended the halves and built a five-point lead at 37-32 with 17:34 remaining. However, outside of Keshawn Williams’ 28 points, NIU’s offense struggled to score consistently as it battled against 19 turnovers.
“Not surprising that it’s been different (struggles) in different games,” Jacobson said. “Monday against San Francisco we gave up six 3s in transition. Then, Grand Canyon got 19 points of offensive rebounds in the first half (Tuesday). Today, we turned it over too much in the first half. Until we get some game experience, and until we get a little more sound fundamentally, who knows what it’s going to be at Bradley (Wednesday). You’ve just got to play fast, you’ve gotta play hard, you’ve got to get a rebound (and) got to execute the best you can.”
Along with Born’s career-high, Wolf finished with a career-high 19 points and Duax matched his career-high with 11.
Cole Henry (ankle) was held out of Saturday’s win and Jacobson says he’s questionable for Wednesday’s Missouri Valley Conference opener at Bradley (3-3).