UNI Panthers

UNI women's basketball gets first win over Iowa since 2006, and it's a rout

Kam Finley leads bench brigade, and the Panthers roll, 88-66

CEDAR FALLS — According to Kam Finley, the University of Northern Iowa women’s basketball team “gets to celebrate until midnight” after a victory.

Sunday’s effort deserves an extension. Through breakfast Monday, at least.

Finley scored 20 points off the bench to lead the Panthers to their first win over Iowa in 13 years, 88-66, in front of 3,255 Sunday afternoon at the McLeod Center.

UNI scored 52 bench points and marched to 4-0. That includes two victories over 2019 NCAA tournament teams, Missouri and Iowa.

“That says a lot about our depth, Panthers Coach Tanya Warren said. “When you come off the bench with kids like Kam Finley and Abby Gerrits, there’s not going to be a drop-off.”

Sunday’s outcome was Exhibit 2 that — as of now, at least — this is a mid-major state for women’s hoops. Drake already has a victory over Iowa State.

And this outcome was never in doubt. Never.

The Panthers scored the first five points of the game and pulled steadily away throughout. The margin reached 30 points late in the game.

“They played really well,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “Everything we tried to do, they had an answer for.”

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UNI did it even though its leading scorer, Karli Rucker, didn’t dent the scoring column. Abby Gerrits added 15 points off the bench, Kristina Cavey 14.

“We were able to make the extra pass, get it to the post and get good post reads,” Gerrits said.

The Panthers also sliced through the Hawkeyes’ defense with dribble-drive action throughout.

“It was a lot of little things at the defensive end,” Iowa’s Makenzie Meyer said. “We didn’t do a good job of defending at all.

“We all could have done a better job, especially me, and I take full responsibility for that.”

And that is precisely what Bluder doesn’t want to hear at this point.

“We knew this was going to be a learning process, and Kathleen (Doyle) and Makenzie are holding the weight of the world on their shoulders,” Bluder said.

Gerrits scored eight points in the first quarter as UNI built a 21-12 lead, then Finley — a former prep at Linn-Mar, then Cedar Falls — went to work, scoring 11 points in the second period, and the Panthers took a 45-31 margin into intermission.

Iowa’s only sustained surge came in the third quarter, an 8-0 run that cut a 21-point deficit to 59-46, but it didn’t last. It was 88-58 when Gerrits hit two free throws with 3:38 left.

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UNI doesn’t beat Iowa often (3-22 all-time), but when the Panthers do win, they do it handily — 83-39 at the West Gym in 1975, 83-62 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in 2006, 88-66 Sunday.

“This isn’t about beating Iowa,” said Warren, who did it for the first time. “This is about being the next game in front of us.”

Meyer was Iowa’s only double-digit scorer, with 14 points. The Hawkeyes has 11 assists, low by their standards.

“Eleven assists, that’s not Iowa basketball,” Bluder said.

Iowa hosts Princeton on Wednesday. UNI’s next game is here next Sunday against Northwest Missouri State.

NORTHERN IOWA 88, IOWA 66

At Cedar Falls

IOWA (66): Amanda Ollinger 4-9 0-0 8, Monika Czinano 3-5 0-4 6, Makenzie Meyer 4-16 4-6 14, Alexis Sevillian 3-7 1-1 7, Kathleen Doyle 3-14 2-5 9, Kate Martin 1-4 6-9 8, Gabbie Marshall 1-3 0-0 3, McKenna Warnock 2-4 0-0 5, Tomi Taiwo 1-1 0-0 2, Logan Cook 1-2 2-2 4, Megan Meyer 0-0 0-0 0, Paula Valino Ramos 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-65 15-27 66.

NORTHERN IOWA (88): Bre Gunnels 1-3 4-6 7, Megan Maahs 3-5 2-2 9, Karli Rucker 0-4 0-0 0, Nicole Kroeger 5-7 0-0 13, Rose Simon-Ressler 2-5 3-3 7, Kam Finley 8-13 3-3 20, Cynthia Wolf 0-2 1-2 1, Kristina Cavey 6-7 1-2 14, Heidi Hillyard 0-2 0-0 0, Abby Gerrits 5-7 2-2 15, Cailyn Morgan 0-2 0-0 0, Sara McCullough 1-2 0-0 2, Kiana Barney 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-59 16-20 88.

Halftime: UNI 45, Iowa 31. 3-point goals: Iowa 5-16 (Ollinger 0-2, Mak. Meyer 2-6, Sevillian 0-1, Doyle 1-4, Marshall 1-2, Warnock 1-1), UNI 10-26 (Gunnels 1-3, Maahs 1-1, Rucker 0-1, Kroeger 3-5, Simon-Ressler 0-2, Finley 1-4, Wolf 0-1, Cavey 1-2, Hillyard 0-2, Gerrits 3-4, McCullough 0-1). Team fouls: Iowa 19, UNI 21. Fouled out: Ollinger, Hillyard. Technical fouls: Finley. Rebounds: Iowa 36 (Ollinger 10), UNI 39 (Gunnels 11). Assists: Iowa 11 (Mak. Meyer 3), UNI 12 (Rucker 3). Steals: Iowa 4 (Mak. Meyer 2), UNI 5 (five with 1). Turnovers: Iowa 11, UNI 11.

Attendance: 3,255.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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