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Women’s College Basketball: UNI defeats Drake, 70-69, on last-second shot

DES MOINES - Sophomore point guard Maya McDermott hit the final second floater to give the Panthers their first win over Drake in the Knapp Center since 2016.

DES MOINES – Sophomore point guard Maya McDermott hit the final second floater to give the Panthers their first win over Drake in the Knapp Center since 2016.

It was a battle that took to the final second in UNI’s 70-69 win over the Drake Bulldogs on Wednesday night. After a slow first quarter, the Panthers offense found its rhythm through the second half, including a game-high nine-point scoring run in the third. UNI’s defense also made waves, setting a season-high 10 blocks and 12 steals.

“It was another great team win,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “I thought we were relentless. We weren’t perfect but we stayed true to our game. We got big stops when we needed to, we made big shots when we needed to. I think we got down nine, we didn’t hang our heads. We just kept chipping away and got good minutes from a lot of people. Maya’s had some really good games, but I thought that was probably the best second half she’s played in her career. Just a terrific and gritty effort from everyone.”

It was a slow start for both teams as it was over three minutes between the Panthers first basket and Drake’s second. UNI would string together a five-point run midway through the quarter to go up by two. The Bulldogs answered back with an 11-2 run to end the first frame, as the Panthers were down by nine.

UNI quickly trimmed Drake’s lead to five to start the second quarter. Guard Emerson Green made a jumper in the first 10 seconds while forward Grace Boffeli put up a layup a minute and a half later. It then became a back-and-forth game until the Bulldogs made a five-point run midway through the second.

The offense slowed down on both sides for the rest of the quarter. The Panthers made it a three-point game shortly before the end of the half on a Taryn Wharton trey. But a quick rebound and layup for Drake had UNI down by five heading into the break.

The Panther offense kicked into high gear in the third quarter, putting up 21 points on 14-26 (53.8%) shooting. UNI started the third on a nine-point run, grabbing a momentary one-point lead in the first two and a half minutes. The Bulldogs matched with a jump shot of their own, but guard Kayba Laube hit a three-pointer to regain the lead for the Panthers.

UNI went up by four midway through the quarter for their largest lead of the game. But Drake continued to put on the pressure, as the Panthers got into foul trouble in the second half of the third. UNI gave up 12 points at the line as the Bulldogs had seven trips to the charity stripe over the last five minutes, putting Drake up by seven going into the final 10 minutes.

The Panther defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, keeping the Bulldogs from making a true basket until halfway into the frame. UNI then put together a nine-point run, highlighted by back-to-back threes from McDermott and Laube, to take a three-point lead with a minute 22 to go. Drake had back-to-back baskets after blocking a Panther layup to retake the lead with 22 seconds left on the clock.

McDermott quickly answered for UNI with a driving layup just seven seconds later. The Bulldogs went down the floor and tried a three-pointer that missed but grabbed the offensive rebound to get another shot. An outside-the-paint jump shot went in for Drake with four seconds to go, but the Panthers didn’t back down. A UNI timeout advanced the Panthers into their own zone, where McDermott executed a perfect floater to give UNI their first win in Des Moines since 2016.

The Panthers shot slightly better than Drake, going 27-68 (39.7%) from the floor, 5-18 (27.8%) from three-point range, and 11-23 (47.8%) from the free throw line. UNI also shared the ball well, recording 14 assists, thanks to six helpers from McDermott. On defense, the Panthers pulled down 36 boards, blocked 10 shots, and grabbed 12 steals with only 11 turnovers.

UNI had three Panthers in double-figures as McDermott led the way with 19 points. Boffeli and Wharton also put up double-digits, with Wharton setting a career-high in points with 10. Boffeli picked up her sixth double-double of the season, scoring 11 while also having 11 rebounds. Center Cynthia Wolf and forward Ryley Goebel recorded four blocks each for UNI while Green had four steals.

The Panthers make the trip to southern Indiana over the weekend to take on the Evansville Purple Aces. The Aces are coming off a win at home against Indiana State for Sunday’s game. UNI will tip off from Meeks Family Fieldhouse at 1 p.m. on Jan. 15.

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