116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Drake men’s basketball snuck past Northern Iowa in overtime Saturday night at McLeod Center, 82-74.
A 9-1 run by the Bulldogs to pull within 70-68 with less than a minute to play set up Roman Penn’s driving layup past Trae Berhow to force overtime.
Drake’s 11-point second-half comeback was largely engineered by a defensive adjustment of its ball-screen coverage to trap AJ Green. The adjustment stagnated the Panthers and ultimately led to a 23-5 scoring run for the Bulldogs over the final 8 1/2 minutes of regulation and overtime.
“I thought our guys played great once we settled in six, seven minutes into the game,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “From that point on I thought our guys really played a good game. We had used that high ball screen to help get us to that 10-point lead and when they made the adjustment and started to trap AJ I needed to get us into something else. And that’s on me. I think if I get us into something else we got a chance to put that game away.”
In the extra period, Drake overcame what had been a considerable advantage at the free-throw line for UNI, making all 10 of its attempts while limiting the Panthers to a 1-for-11 mark from the field with its adjusted defense.
“Tough, tough, hard-fought game,” Drake coach Darian DeVries said. “I thought Northern Iowa had really kind of controlled the game. We were very fortunate there those last three minutes to make some good stops. Then (we) were able to knock free throws down in some critical times.”
Penn led the Bulldogs with 18 points and was joined in double figures by D.J. Wilkins (16), Garrett Sturtz (16), Tucker DeVries (11) and Tremmell Murphy (11).
“All five guys can drive it or post or (are) great cutters so they get behind you,” Jacobson said. “So you’re playing against five guys that put pressure on the rim. They got into some rhythm later in the game. It more came down to me not getting us out of the ball screen action and into some movement.”
The Panthers were led by Green’s 27 points. Eight other Panthers scored, but none reached double figures, including Noah Carter, who was limited to just five points on 1-of-9 shooting.
UNI built separation on the Bulldogs in both halves. An 11-2 first-half scoring run included a stretch where it made 10 of 11 field goals. During the run, Nate Heise caught a backdoor pass for a two-handed dunk, Antwan Kimmons hit his only 3 of the game and Green hit his first of five.
Leading 41-34 at halftime, Green punctuated a 7-0 second-half run with a deep 3 from the right wing, and minutes later UNI extended its lead to nine on an Austin Phyfe and-one layup. Shortly thereafter, Drake called timeout with 7:07 remaining and DeVries made the defensive ball-screen adjustment that Panthers head coach Ben Jacobson acknowledged postgame was the difference.
“Had some bad turnovers. They made some plays, defended us well, but I think we’ll just go back and watch and learn from it. That’s pretty much all you can do,” Green said. “We let it slip away. We got outworked on a few possessions. They were tougher than us a few times. We played hard, but when that happens and that’s how you lose it always hurts.”
UNI travels to Evansville on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff at Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. (ESPN+).