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Panther Rally Falls Just Short at Drexel, 65-63

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team nearly rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit vs. the Drexel Dragons in the second round of the NIT.

But Drexel was able to hold off the Panthers and senior guard Johnny Moran‘s final 3-point shot hit the back iron as the Dragons scored a 65-63 win to advance to the quarterfinals.

UNI (20-14 overall) got 19 points from Moran in his final game as a Panther. Moran drained five three-pointers and grabbed eight rebounds.

The Panthers trailed Drexel, 15-12, with 11:40 to go in the first half. But the Dragons went on an 18-3 run to open up an 18-point bulge at 33-15 with 5:42 remaining before halftime.

UNI trimmed the lead to 10 points at the half as Marc Sonnen hit a driving layup in the closing seconds of the half to make it 38-28 at the break.

The Panthers clawed back in the second half and pulled to within two or one point on three occasions. The second one came with 18 seconds left and Anthony James missed a layup.

UNI’s Chip Rank buried a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left to cut the Drexel lead to 64-63. Drexel’s Frantz Massenat made the first free throw, but missed the second. Deon Mitchell then sprinted the ball up the floor and left a pass for Moran. Moran double-clutched and got off the 3-pointer to win the game before the buzzer sounded. However, it hit the back iron and fell away.

Drexel (29-6) was able to extend its home-court winning streak to 18 in a row. Drexel will take on UMass on Tuesday in the NIT quarterfinals.

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