CEDAR FALLS — Despite allowing a 21-4 run to finish the first half, Northern Iowa won its second consecutive home game Wednesday night, defeating Indiana State 69-64.
UNI (8-10, 3-2 MVC) was led by Spencer Haldeman, who broke out of a nearly two-month long shooting slump to lead the Panthers with a career-high 21 points.
“During this stretch when he hasn’t shot the basketball the way he’s capable of, the way he expects to, he’s developed an edge,” Jacobson said. “We’ve seen it defensively. We’ve seen it the way he handles the basketball. We’ve seen it the way he turns the corner and gets to the rim. Instead of taking a step back and going into a shell because he’s missing shots he’s gone the other way with everything else. I think that’s why he was able to have such a good floor game tonight.”
With 1:17 to play, a pair of Allante Holston free throws brought the Sycamores (10-7, 2-3) within two at 62-60. On UNI’s next possession, Haldeman drove to the hoop and threw a no-look pass to Tywhon Pickford — who scored a season-high 12 points — to extend the Panthers’ lead to four.
After a Jordan Barnes layup, Haldeman was fouled with 26 seconds remaining and was unable to make either of his free throws, but Isaiah Brown slipped through his defender and put back Haldeman’s second miss to put the Panthers ahead by four.
Barnes, who scored 15 points, got a second layup to bring the Sycamores back within a possession, but after a free throw from Trae Berhow, UNI contested Cooper Neese’s game-tying 3-point attempt and salted the game away with a pair of free throws from Berhow.
The Sycamores (22) and Panthers (26) combined for 48 fouls.
UNI’s AJ Green played a season-low 16 minutes and Isaiah Brown — who helped hold Barnes to 4-of-4 shooting — played just 17 as a result of foul trouble. With Green on the bench, Haldeman assumed the majority of the point guard duties and according to Jacobson, was engaged with his teammates in deciding which plays to call down the stretch.
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“That execution offensively, particularly in the second half, and then late, the guys made some great calls in the timeouts talking about what they felt like was going to be the right call,” Jacobson said. “The guys called a lot of those (plays).”
Northern Iowa travels to Valparaiso (11-7, 4-1) Saturday for a 3 p.m. tip.