CEDAR FALLS — Tyreke Key’s game-high 31 points pushed Indiana State past Northern Iowa at McLeod Center Saturday night, 61-57.
A back-and-forth first 38 minutes finished with two minutes of chaos with UNI (5-12, 3-8 MVC) coach Ben Jacobson’s switch to a full-court defense down by eight.
After the switch, the Panthers trimmed the Sycamores lead to one possession at 60-57 on Trae Berhow’s layup with 39 seconds left. Then, following Cooper Niese’s miss on the front end of a one-and-one, Bowen Born’s 3 to tie missed long and Key put the game out of reach with one final free throw.
“We obviously had intentions of doing a better job (on Key),” Jacobson said. “He got loose in transition in the first half and those ones hurt us. The first 10 minutes of the game we were pretty active offensively. But a couple of those times we had three or four guys at the rim and they got out on us and we didn’t match up very good.”The Sycamores — who extended their winning streak to seven games — pressured the Panthers’ half-court offense throughout the game, forcing 17 turnovers.
Austin Phyfe, who matched Berhow with a team-high 11 points, committed a season-high seven turnovers.
“Indiana State has got a really good defense. They do a really good job of rotating,” Phfye said. “I think just slowing ourselves down and being able to show the shot fake, show a pass fake, make the right read, those are things that we need to do in tomorrow’s game.
Noah Carter joined Phyfe and Berhow in double figures with 10 points and nine rebounds and was part of one of UNI’s best starts to a game this season.
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Carter, along with Berhow, Bowen Born and Cole Henry gave the Panthers a 10-2 lead to begin the game. Turnovers and defensive miscommunications followed not long after, though — particularly the last eight minutes of the first half with Indiana State going on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 25 with 1:28 remaining.
A long, contested 3 from Carter made it 28-25 at the break, but a 13-4 run by Indiana State (11-7, 8-5) to begin the second half along with the turnovers and UNI’s 8-for-15 (53%) effort at the free throw line ultimately kept the Panthers from stopping the streaking Sycamores.
“Our offensive possessions the last seven, eight minutes of the first half — we did not take advantage of the opportunities we did have,” Jacobson said. “We turned it over a couple times when we needed to make a good play. I felt like offensively, not getting points the last eight minutes of the first half, really hurt us tonight.”
UNI wraps up its two-game series with Indiana State at 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPN3).