116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Northern Iowa got its redemption Saturday night at Knapp Center, slipping past Drake, 74-69, in overtime.
Noah Carter — who scored a game-high 23 points — began the extra period with a lay-in through a Tucker DeVries foul that ended in a three-point play. Trae Berhow — who finished with 16 points — followed Carter with a layup, increasing the Panthers’ lead to 68-65.
After six Bulldogs missed shots, AJ Green corralled DJ Wilkins’ missed layup and found Berhow, who tossed an alley-oop to Carter for a seven-point advantage and what appeared to be the gamebreaker.
Nate Heise’s turnover on an inbound pass after a pair of DeVries free throws brought the Bulldogs back within a possession with 11 seconds left, but a pair of Green free throws sealed the UNI win. The Panthers avenged an overtime loss to Drake from January.
“Both games were really, really hard-fought games,” UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said. “Both games were physical with the smaller lineups that both teams play. There was a lot of switching that takes place, so you’re just trying to find an advantage somewhere and it’s hard to do in this game. Guys got to make some plays when there’s more switching going on and both teams had guys make plays. Great game today.”
Poor shooting put the Panthers (13-9, 9-3) behind 14-4 to begin the game and challenged them throughout the 45 minutes as they finished 4-of-23 from 3-point range and shot just 37 percent from the field.
Carter’s interior offense and a stubborn downhill approach from its guards provided UNI with 26 free-throw attempts, of which it converted 24.
“Just not letting their physicality disrupt me (and) being able to get it up close to the rim and finishing — that’s something I didn’t do in the first game,” Carter said. “It was definitely a different energy than we had in the first game going into overtime. Just changing our mindset and our different energy this time around (was important to) just going out there and finishing.”
Thirteen lead changes and 40 combined fouls helped create an intense showcase of two Missouri Valley Conference front-runners battling for a regular-season championship. The Panthers’ win moves them into a tie for first place in the MVC with Loyola Chicago (17-4, 8-2).
“The two things that I felt were the most different in this game was Noah — the way he played physically and taking some of that fight and some of that bounce to get inside the charge circle. The other, was getting (rebounds) even. Those two areas went Drake’s way in the first (game),” Jacobson said. “We evened those out and we got the better end of (Carter) in this one. We just had to be tougher than we were in the first game. And it felt like we were.”
Drake was led by DeVries’ 15 points. D.J. Wilkins (13), Roman Penn (11), Garrett Sturtz (10) and Shanquan Hemphill (10) each joined him in double figures.
“It’s a fun game to be a part of, especially the high-level basketball that both teams play. It’s an in-state rivalry game and it means something,” DeVries said. “That one stings, but I don’t think this makes or breaks our season. I’d love to see them again come St. Louis.”
UNI hosts Southern Illinois (11-12, 4-7) on Wednesday at McLeod Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. (ESPN+).