WICHITA, Kan. ñ The 13th-seeded University of Northern Iowa women’s basketball team staged a furious comeback against fourth-seeded Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but the Panthers came up short at the end, falling 69-66.|WICHITA, Kan. ñ The 13th-seeded University of Northern Iowa women’s basketball team staged a furious comeback against fourth-seeded Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but the Panthers came up short at the end, falling 69-66. Junior Jacqui Kalin scored 21 points to lead UNI and K.K. Armstrong added 17.
In a game that went down to the final buzzer, UNI trimmed a 14-point second-half deficit to two points and held the ball for a final shot trailing by three. Senior Erin Brocka’s three-point attempt came up short at the horn, and Michigan State escaped INTRUST Bank Arena with a first round NCAA Tournament victory.
The loss snapped UNI’s school-record 19-game winning streak and was the Panthers’ first defeat since Jan. 1.
The Panthers outscored the Spartans 38-32 in the second half and 34-23 over the final 15 minutes of the contest.
UNI (27-6 overall) shot 24-of-53 (45.3 percent) from the field for the game. Michigan State shot 28-of-60 (46.7 percent). The Panthers held a slight edge in the rebounding battle at 35-34.
The Spartans (27-5 overall) shot 8-of-20 (40 percent) from three-point range, while UNI knocked down 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) attempts from downtown.
Michigan State jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first five minutes of the contest, behind hot shooting from junior Taylor Alton and senior Kalisha Keane. The Spartans stretched that lead to 26-14 with 9:06 to play before halftime, but back-to-back three pointers by Kalin closed the gap to 26-20 with seven minutes left in the half.
The Panthers closed the gap further, getting the margin down to five points at 31-26 on a Katelin Oney layup with 3:55 left in the first half, but Michigan State went on a 6-2 run to lead 37-28 at the break.
UNI shot 11-of-29 (37.9 percent) from the field in the opening half, while the Spartans shot 15-of-30 (50 percent). The Panthers won the first half rebounding battle, 19-18.
Michigan State opened their largest lead at 46-32 at the 15:41 mark of the second half, but the Panthers answered with an 8-0 run sparked by a conventional three-point play by Oney and a Lizzie Boeck jumper. Jacqui Kalin drained a three-pointer on the next possession to put the Panthers within six at 46-40.
Michigan State answered with a 7-2 run to go up 53-44, but the Panthers were not done yet. UNI trimmed the deficit to four points at 55-51 after a three-pointer by Jacqui Kalin at the 8:02 mark of the second half, but Michigan State again used five straight points to go ahead 60-51 with 6:20 left.
The Panthers used a 6-0 run to cut Michigan State’s lead to 60-57 with 4:51 remaining in the game. After an Alton three-pointer, UNI scored four straight points on four Rachel Madrigal free throws to set the score at 63-61.
Michigan State scored on back-to-back possessions to spur a 6-1 run and hold a 69-62 lead. UNI recorded the last four points of the game on a Lizzie Boeck layup and a jumper by Kalin.
UNI made one final stop on the defensive end to gain the last possession, but Brocka’s last-second shot came up short after a Panther timeout.