CARBONDALE, Ill. – The University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team clinched a tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 65-61 win over the Southern Illinois Salukis on Saturday at SIU Arena.
UNI (19-12 overall, 9-9 MVC) took advantage of a game-high 18 points from junior guard Anthony James. Freshman Deon Mitchell added 12 points and junior forward Jake Koch pitched in with 11 points to help the Panthers to the victory and season sweep of the Salukis.
SIU (8-22, 5-13 MVC) was led by Mamadou Seck with 18 points and nine rebounds. Justin Bocot added 14 points behind the strength of three 3-pointers.
UNI trailed at the half, 31-28, but came out strong in the second half and built a 51-41 lead with 9:27 left in the game. However, the Salukis refused to go away as the Panthers did not make a field goal until the 2:59 mark. UNI’s Marc Sonnen drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 55-55 after the Salukis had taken a 55-52 lead.
UNI scored its final 10 points at the line. SIU did tie the game at 59-59 with 52.1 seconds left on a triple from Bocot, but the Salukis’ Jeff Early was whistled for a foul on the shot. UNI’s Johnny Moran drained one of two free throws to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.
UNI will now head to the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on March 1-4. UNI will play on Friday against either Indiana State in the No. 3 vs. No. 6 game or against the Illinois State Redbirds in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game.