CEDAR FALLS – The UNI women’s basketball team fell in their home opener of the season to the #9 Iowa Hawkeyes, 61-82.
The Panthers had a tough matchup to open the season against one of the Top 10 teams in the nation in the 9th ranked Hawkeyes. And while UNI was able to get within striking distance during the second half, they wouldn’t be able to close the gap through 40 minutes.
“In order to be able to compete and beat Iowa, you have to be able to score. And I thought we left a lot of buckets out there,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “But I’ve very pleased and proud of how we fought to get ourselves back in it. And again, we would shoot ourselves in the foot. First quarter it was missed shots. Second quarter it was turnovers. Third quarter I thought we did some really good things. And then every time we had an opportunity to get that close to single digits, we would turn it over or have a missed shot.”
The Panthers would start the first quarter defending as the Hawkeyes won the tip. But they would take their first lead of the game just over a minute in with a layup from guard Karli Rucker off a steal. Iowa would answer quickly and go on a 6-point run to grab the lead back. UNI would get two points back in the 4th minute but the Hawkeyes would then go on their best run of the quarter, scoring 15 points in 5 minutes. The Panthers would get a 3-pointer before the end of the quarter as Iowa led 24-9.
The second quarter began with the Hawkeyes keeping momentum, scoring two buckets in the first two minutes. The Panthers would again find their shooting legs in the second, trading baskets back and forth until they went on a 4-point scoring run in the middle of the quarter. The second half of the quarter was quiet as neither team made a shot in almost 2 minutes until forward Cynthia Wolf made a layup in the paint off a turnover. The Hawkeyes would get the last basket of the quarter as the two teams headed into halftime with Iowa leading 41-24.
The Panthers had their best 10 minutes of the game in the 3rd quarter. Guard Kam Finley made 9 points in the 3rd, including two 3-pointers at 6:24 and 3:33. Guard Maya McDermott also made an impact in the quarter with 5 points and her second 3rd pointer of the game. UNI would also have their best run of the game in the 3rd, scoring 6 points in just over 3 minutes. Heading into the final quarter the Panthers trailed by 13, their smallest deficit of the game after the 1st quarter.
In the final quarter of the game, UNI would have a 5 point scoring run in the second minute. It would be quiet on the floor for almost 4 minutes as the two teams only made 8 points combined in that time frame. After the final media timeout of the quarter, the Hawkeyes would find their 3-point shooting, making 2 of 4 in the final 3 and a half minutes. Despite playing tough in the 2nd half, the Panthers would fall to the Hawkeyes 61-82.
As a team, the Panthers were 21 of 65 from the field (32.3%), 8 of 29 (27.6%), from behind the arc, and 11 of 14 (78.6%) from the free-throw line. Individually, Finley led the Panthers with 17 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 5 of 16 from the floor, and 3 of 8 from 3 point range. McDermott would follow closely behind with 14 points, shooting 50% from the field and 50% from behind the arc. Defensively forward Bre Gunnels had 8 rebounds, with 6 coming on the defensive side of the ball, while center Grace Boffeli had 6.
The Panthers hit the road to take on the North Dakota State Bison on Wednesday evening. The road contest is set for 7 p.m. from the Scheels Center.