116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa cruised past Division-III Wartburg, 105-49, in its regular season opener Monday night at McLeod Center.
A modest 12-5 lead at the game’s first media timeout quickly turned into a 29-10 advantage less than five minutes later. UNI’s offense routinely found open shots as Landon Wolf hit two of his four 3-pointers during the run and Bowen Born added one of his two 3s of the game along with a contested floater.
UNI's first-half offensive outburst was sparked by its attacking defense.
Provoked by a number of double teams, the Panthers forced seven steals and 16 Wartburg turnovers in the half. After the game, UNI Coach Ben Jacobson described how this team’s roster is built to attack defensively.
“Drop coverage fits (Austin Phyfe) better. James (Betz) isn’t as big, (Derek Krogman) isn’t as big, Cole (Henry) isn’t as big. The three of them, they move well enough where we can get them out there on the ball screen,” Jacobson said. “Then, we like our movement, our quickness, our size (and) our length in the backcourt. It fits this roster (to attack).”
With a 53-19 halftime lead, UNI’s offense kept its first-half pace, pouring 16 points on the Knights in the first five minutes of the second half and another 15 in the following five to extend its lead to 84-33 with 10:32 remaining.
Nate Heise dunked two of his four field goals on a pair of impressive drives to the basket. Meanwhile, three 3s from Drew Daniel and two more from Wolf displayed the potential of UNI’s inexperienced bench.
“I think (Landon) is going to average double figures,” Jacobson said. “And to have a guy coming in off the bench that can get you double figures, that’s an important part of the roster.
“Drew lives in the gym and he’s gotten a lot better because of it. I know these guys got a ton of confidence in him. He’s going to put it up and he should. I think we feel like he can help us.”
Born led all scorers with 19 points and was joined in double figures by Wolf (18), Heise (14), Trey Campbell (11) and Daniel (11).
Tytan Anderson reeled in a game-high 12 rebounds and added six points as all 11 Panthers that played scored.
“I felt like tonight there was just a little bit of extra energy with it being the first real game,” Born said. “We’ve had a lot of firsts with this group — all summer just kind of trying to see how everybody is going to mesh together. It felt like everybody was on the same page (Monday night). It’s something we’re going to need on Friday (against Richmond).”
Cole Henry (ankle) did not play against the Knights and Jacobson says he’s questionable to return for road games Friday and Monday at Richmond and Virginia.
“Hopefully within the next couple days we’ll have him back at practice,” Jacobson said. “No certainty on whether we’ll have him on Friday. I think it’s somewhere between three or four days and 10 (to) 12 days is my best guess.”
UNI’s Division-I regular-season opener against the Spiders tips off at Robbins Center at 6 p.m. (CT) Friday (ESPN+).