116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa women’s basketball is readying for its annual trip to Knapp Center in Des Moines to take on Missouri Valley Conference rival Drake Wednesday night.
As both programs have solidified themselves as annual MVC contenders over the past decade, recent history of UNI at Knapp Center has been unkind, leaving the Panthers without a win in the capital city since 2016.
High-scoring games have defined the series recently, and UNI (8-5, 3-1) Coach Tanya Warren expects the same at 6 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN+) against the Bulldogs (8-4, 3-1).
“We know that they’re going to play matchup (zone), they’re going to also mix in some (player-to-player defense),” Warren said. “Both teams like to run. It’s going to be who is able to take away transition baskets and who is able to get easy baskets in the paint.”
UNI leading scorer Grace Boffeli is coming off a nine-point performance against Belmont that tied her season-low. The Bruins consistently double-teamed the sophomore forward, but Panthers guard Emerson Green said there’s ultimate confidence in Boffeli bouncing back.
“Not everyone is going to have their best game every night and that’s fine,” Green said. “We know that we’re there to pick (Boffeli) up. She’s a level-headed kid. She knows what she has to do.
“I have more than enough faith in her and know that she’ll bounce back and we’ll be good.”
Cold shooting in the first half proved to be the culprit for the Panthers in their loss to Belmont on Sunday. Warren pointed out Monday how that stretch was unexpected, but acknowledged it comes with the territory given the fact they’re in year one of running a new offense.
“When we decided we were going to do this (new offense) we knew there were going to be some hiccups,” Warren said. “But it’s really important we stay true to what we want to do, and this is something we want to do. And, honestly, it’s been very, very good for us. We just struggled (Sunday) in the second quarter.
“We’re not going to panic.”