CEDAR FALLS – UNI men’s basketball earned the first win of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) season on Sunday afternoon as the Panthers defeated the Evansville Purple Aces 83-61 at the McLeod Center.
UNI trailed for just 54 seconds early in the first half, before a strong offensive performance put the Panthers ahead for the rest of the afternoon.
The Panthers improve to 5-7 overall on the season, and even their MVC record at 1-1. Evansville falls to 4-9 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
After falling behind 8-5 in the opening minutes, UNI tied the game on an AJ Green three-point field goal and never looked back. The Panthers shot 50% or better from the field throughout the entirety of the afternoon, while the defense held the Purple Aces to 40% in the game.
UNI knocked down 11 three-point baskets including four from Green, as well as a pair from both Trae Berhow and Nate Heise, with Austin Phyfe and Bowen Born each hitting one three-pointer. The Panthers also found success in transition, outscoring Evansville 10-3 in fast breaks.
UNI opened the second half on a 10-0 run out of the halftime break, building off stellar bench play and presence inside the paint. The Panthers led by as many as 23 points late in the second half before finishing the day with a 21-point victory.
A season-high 5 Panthers finished in double-digits in scoring, led by Green’s 18 points and five assists. Berhow posted 16 points and 6 rebounds, while Noah Carter scored 15 points off the bench. Antwan Kimmons and Heise each recorded 10-point performances, while Tyhwon Pickford led UNI with seven rebounds.
UNI’s 83 points against Evansville were the most scored in a home MVC opener since the 2008-09 season, when the Panthers scored 84 points in a narrow double overtime loss to Indiana State.
UNI’s bench outscored Evansville 32-14, the fourth most points from the Panther bench this season.
The Panthers are 17-14 all-time in MVC home openers since joining the league back in the 1991-92 season.
UNI has won 10 consecutive home games against the Purple Aces, the longest home winning streak against any MVC opponent.
AJ Green sits with 1,390 career points scored, 10 points shy of becoming the 10th Panther to score 1,400 points in a career.
Trae Berhow moved up to 43rd on UNI’s all-time scoring list with 1,020 points since coming to UNI in 2018 after transferring from Pepperdine.
Austin Phyfe is 68 points from passing his father Steve Phyfe on the program’s all-time scoring list. Steve Phyfe, a member of UNI’s first-ever NCAA Tournament team in 1990, scored 912 points for the Panthers from 1987-90.
Tywhon Pickford is two points from scoring 700 in his collegiate career.
Noah Carter tied Brian Heying (1994-98) for 106th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 538 points.
The Panthers return to action on Jan. 5 as they host the Beacons of Valparaiso University in MVC action. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the McLeod Center.