ST. LOUIS — Tremmell Murphy’s game-tying layup with eight seconds remaining appeared to have in-state rivals Drake and Northern Iowa headed toward overtime in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinals Saturday night at Enterprise Center.
However, a game-winning, coast-to-coast layup with two seconds remaining from Wyatt Lohaus led UNI past Drake in thrilling fashion, 60-58, and into the championship game against Bradley at 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS).
“I saw there (was) about eight or nine seconds which, gave me more than enough time to be able to dribble it down (court) if I wanted to,” Lohaus said. “From there it was kind of just trying to pick up speed and get downhill. I think they kind of flexed out to our shooters, so it kind of just left a driving lane open and (I) just tried to push it down as hard as I can (and) the lane cleared up for me for the layup.”
Twenty-one of Lohaus’ 27 points came in a second half that featured nine lead changes. The Panthers’ lone (healthy) senior scored eight of his team’s final 10 points and nearly had his coach Ben Jacobson in tears after the game.
“(Wyatt’s) been as good as anybody we’ve had in this tournament,” Jacobson said. “I just, I love him. I love him. He’s put a lot into this.”
“I just love seeing when a guy gets rewarded for that. That’s what I think about (his) last two games. He’s getting rewarded for hard work and I love seeing that, and now we’re going to get ready for Bradley.”
Trailing by five with 11:33 to play, UNI went on a 13-3 run, effectively erasing its first half struggles as Trae Berhow — who joined Lohaus in double-figures with 12 points — Spencer Haldeman and Luke McDonnell provided the scoring.
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Sixth-seeded UNI struggled to keep up with the injury-riddled Bulldogs for 30 minutes. No. 2-seed Drake’s defensive adjustments without D.J. Wilkins (ankle) and Nick McGlynn (MCL sprain) were something UNI couldn’t study, and Jacobson described how ultimately it turned into a game of play-making.
“To be able to battle (Drake) off today, really proud of our whole team and really proud of (Wyatt and Trae) and the plays that — because we had to make a lot of plays today. There wasn’t as much in terms of creating stuff with our actions.”
Fifth-seeded Bradley knocked off No. 1-seed Loyola-Chicago in the other semifinal game, 53-51.