CEDAR FALLS — A late 15-2 scoring run that bookended the third and fourth quarters sparked a Missouri State comeback Sunday afternoon at McLeod Center.
The Bears downed host Northern Iowa 63-58.
UNI (13-8, 6-3 MVC) countered the Bears’ late run, pulling within a possession at 59-56 with 2:18 to play on a Karli Rucker floater. After nearly two minutes of neither team scoring, a loose ball out of bounds bounds led to a video review and Missouri State (13-7, 9-0) was awarded possession, forcing the Panthers to foul with only 28 seconds remaining.
Danielle Gitzen and Brice Calip, who scored 10 and 12 points, respectively, went perfect at the free throw line to secure the win. They were jonied in double figures by Alexa Willard and Sidney Wilson
Despite shooting 50 percent in the first half, UNI struggled to create separation, committing 14 turnovers.
The Panthers also saw their offense go cold on multiple occasions. A 3:40 scoreless streak in the second quarter and a three-plus minute drought in the third had head coach Tanya Warren disappointed in her team’s attention to detail.
“Ball came out of our hand way too quick,” Warren said. “Very disappointed. Our effort is good, but our attention to detail was not very good today. My No. 1 and No. 2 emphasis was take care of the basketball and defensive rebound. No second-chance points and get back in transition and we did not do a very good job, especially in the second half in those areas.”
Rucker, who led UNI with 11 points, said a couple factors ultimately led to the Panthers’ inability to topple the Missouri Valley Conference’s first-place team.
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“I would say the end of the third quarter definitely (hurt),” Rucker said. “ We didn’t get a couple rebounds and we turned the ball over and then that led into the fourth quarter. They had momentum going into the fourth, for sure.”
The Bears, who snapped Drake’s 47-game Valley winning streak Friday, extended their winning streak to 12 against UNI.
“They wanted it more than we did,” Warren said. We did a terrible job of executing when we had the lead. Nonchalant turnovers that led into transition points and just fouled way too much. Just not typical of what we do.”
UNI senior guard Ellie Howell exited the game just before the end of the third quarter and did not return. Warren didn’t have details on a possible injury but said, “one of those years where we’ve had a lot of (injuries).”
Northern Iowa returns to action Friday when it travels to Chicago for a 7 p.m. tip against Loyola (10-10, 4-5).