PEORIA, Ill. – A record-breaking third quarter lifted the Panthers to their first MVC win this season against the Bradley Braves, 83-64.
For the first time since 2016, UNI won their first MVC game of the season on the road. With three players in double-figures and winning the rebound game the Panthers cruised to a win in the second half. UNI also had its best performance from three-point range of the season, going 13-28 (46.4%) through 40 minutes.
“It was a great road win,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “I thought we had a slow start, especially the second quarter. I thought the third quarter we came out and we really defended. We got stops to allow us to get out in transition and get some easy buckets.
“And then our offense started rolling. It was a great team win, I thought our bench was good. It’s hard to win on the road, so for us to be able to come out and get our first Missouri Valley road win, I’m excited for this group. We have a saying, we win the first one and we get greedy for the second one. So we’re excited to play against a very good Illinois State team on Sunday.”
The Panthers got out to a quick start as guard Kam Finley hit a three-pointer in the first minute of the game. UNI continued to shoot well from behind the arc in the first, going three of seven, with two of the three baskets coming from Finley. The Panthers traded shots with Bradley through most of the first but pulled away to a six-point lead in the final two minutes on a five-point run. But the quarter ended with more back-and-forth play as UNI took a four-point lead.
It was a struggle on offense in the second for the Panthers, only shooting 27.8% from the floor. The Braves benefited from six points at the line over ten minutes. UNI lost its lead only three minutes into the quarter as Bradley put up a five-point run. The two teams traded baskets until the last 90 seconds. The Braves heated up from three-point range, going 3-5 with two in the final minute of the first half.
It would be an explosive third quarter for the Panthers as they charged out to a 10-point lead in the first four minutes. UNI kept Bradley scoreless for over six minutes, outscoring the Braves 34-9 to set a new offensive record for most points in one quarter. The Panthers had such offensive success thanks to over 60% shooting, including going 5-8 from behind the arc.
UNI kept the pressure on in the final frame, putting up another 19 points, with all but five coming from players off the bench. All 12 members of the Panther roster found their way into the game in the fourth quarter, with UNI’s starting five out for the final three minutes. The Braves did make one last run to have their second-best quarter of the game. But the Panthers kept up with Bradley to take their first MVC win of the season 83-64.
Along with their best game from three-point range, UNI went 30-64 (44.8%) from the floor and 10-16 (62.5%) at the charity stripe. The Panthers shared the ball well, notching 27 assists for a season-high. UNI also grabbed 40 boards, while having 6 steals and 4 blocks on defense.
Forward Grace Boffeli again led the Panthers in points and rebounds with 17 and seven respectively. Guards Maya McDermott and Cailyn Morgan also scored in double-digits against the Braves with 15 and 10 each. McDermott also helped lead UNI in assists along with guard Emerson Green as each had six helpers.
The Panthers continue their first MVC road trip over the weekend with a stop in Normal, Ill. To take on the Illinois State Redbirds. The New Years’ game starts at 2 p.m. from Redbird Coliseum with a broadcast on ESPN+.