ST. LOUIS – UNI struggled to find an offensive rhythm on Friday afternoon as the Panther men’s basketball team fell to Loyola-Chicago 66-43 in the semifinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament at Enterprise Center.
UNI drops to 19-11 on the season with the loss, while the Ramblers improve to 24-7. The Panthers will now prepare for the upcoming NIT Tournament, where UNI is guaranteed a bid thanks to clinching the MVC’s regular season title.
Loyola played tight defense from start to finish, creating challenges for the Panthers to finish at the rim and from mid-range. UNI was held without a three-point field goal for the first 15 minutes of the opening half as the Ramblers shot 51.6% overall from the field. The Panthers were able to cut the deficit down to single digits in the waning minutes of the period, but struggled in the final seconds, heading to the halftime break trailing by 16 points, 39-23.
Both UNI and Loyola shot under 30% in the second half, but the Panthers would be unable to reach the basket and score in the final 15 minutes of play. Despite forcing the Ramblers into the bonus and earning 15 free throw attempts in the second half, UNI was held to a season-low 20 points in the final period.
AJ Green led the Panthers with a team-high 13 points with 6 rebounds on the day, with Trae Berhow posting 8 points and a game-high 8 rebounds in the loss. Noah Carter scored 7 points with 5 rebounds, as Nate Heise, Tywhon Pickford and Austin Phyfe scored 4 points each.
UNI is now 5-2 in MVC Tournament semifinal games under head coach Ben Jacobson. It is the first time the Panthers have fallen in the semifinal round in St. Louis since March 8, 2008 against Illinois State.
The Panthers are now 27-24 all-time in Arch Madness games since joining the MVC in 1991-92. UNI is also 1-2 against Loyola in the MVC Tournament.
UNI’s 43 points scored were a season-low.
With his 13 points against Loyola, AJ Green passed Jason Daisy (1992-97) for fifth on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,732 points.
Trae Berhow broke his three-way tie with Craig Kneppe (1963-66) and Deon Mitchell (2011-15) for sole possession of 20th on UNI’s career scoring list with 1,208 points.
Austin Phyfe improved to 52nd on UNI’s all-time scoring list with his 4 points against the Ramblers, improving his career total to 917 points.