CEDAR FALLS — A 10-0 scoring run early in the second half gave Northern Iowa men’s basketball the separation it needed to get past CSU Bakersfield Wednesday night at McLeod Center, 67-55.
Clinging to a 24-22 lead at halftime the Panthers shrugged off another bout of poor shooting inside their home arena when AJ Green and Spencer Haldeman — who scored 14 and 15 points respectively — did all the damage to give UNI (3-0) a 12-point lead with just over 15 minutes remaining.
“They all felt good but to finally see a few go down, that was definitely a good feeling,” Green said.
Taze Moore’s layup with 10:51 to play brought the Roadrunners (1-2) back within eight, but just over two minutes later another layup from Moore was accompanied by a technical foul on the junior guard when he threw his made layup at Isaiah Brown, who was readying to inbound the ball.
Haldeman sank both free throws after the technical and Green followed with a nifty driving left-handed layup to extend UNI’s lead to 14.
“The defensive rebounding and the transition defense, those two areas, we felt like were going to be the two keys to the game,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said.
“In all three games defensively in the halfcourt we’ve done a good job. Guys have been able to take the scouting report from the film room to the practice floor and all three times now taken it to the gamefloor.”
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As UNI stiff-armed CSU Bakersfield’s attempts at a comeback, senior center Justin Dahl did the dirty work in his first minutes of the season. In 18 minutes, Dahl grabbed four rebounds and scored four points while providing plenty more that didn’t make its way onto the statsheet.
“Honestly, my mentality going into every game is if I don’t play, I don’t play. That’s OK, I’m going to cheer on the guys from the bench and try to bring energy from there,” Dahl said. “Just mentally going into the game I just told myself ‘be ready, get that dog spirit going (and) be ready to fight.’”
UNI hosts Northern Colorado (2-1) this Saturday at noon.