116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS - A hot-shooting second half sent Drake past Northern Iowa, 77-56, in a Missouri Valley Conference women's basketball game Wednesday night at McLeod Center.
Trailing 31-30 with 57 seconds left in the first half, the Bulldogs found their shot and effectively put the game away over the next eight-plus minutes with a 24-5 run.
Drake (13-10, 11-5) outscored the Panthers 30-11 in the third quarter, hitting 81 percent of its field goals (13-16) and 67 percent of its 3s (4-6) during the outburst.
'I thought we defended extremely well the first half, but when you're unable to make shots it eventually wears on your defense, especially with a very good offensive team like Drake,” UNI (10-11, 7-7) head coach Tanya Warren said. 'We got good shots, (but) you've got to have the courage to knock them down. That's the difference between their team and ours. They have a lot of courage to make shots, and right now, we don't.”
The Panthers countered the Bulldogs with extended pressure defense late in their run, but Drake's offense and ball movement - 27 assists on 30 field goals - proved too much for UNI to corral.
'You want to be able to switch up defenses, but you've also got to make shots to switch up defenses,” Warren said. 'I give them a lot of credit. When they get rolling, they get rolling.”
Drake's Grace Berg led all scorers with 18 points and was joined in double figures by Kierra Collier (16), Monica Burich (12) and Maggie Bair (11).
Kayla Laube led UNI with 14 points on four first-half 3s. Karli Rucker was the only other Panther to reach double figures with 12.
'We have six freshmen, but the core of our team is veterans,” Warren said. 'That's where the struggle is. We have veterans that are not playing the way they should be playing as veterans. We've got a lot of work to do from a mental standpoint, physical standpoint. It's going to be like, honestly, starting over.”
The Panthers, who haven't won or lost more than two consecutive games this season, have only four games remaining before the MVC tournament arrives the second weekend in March.
Asked after the loss about finding some consistency before the conference tournament arrives, Warren didn't mince words.
'There's a lot of (mental) fatigue, unfortunately. But you know what? Everybody is in the same boat this time of year,” Warren said. 'We have to get a lot more mentally tough. You don't be down four, play the way you did in the first half, and then get blown out by 20 at home. That's embarrassing. We're taking wearing that jersey for granted and that bothers me.”