NASHVILLE – UNI men’s basketball rallied back in the final minutes from a 16-point deficit and a barrage of three-point baskets in the first half, but ultimately came up short in its comeback attempt as the Panthers fell to the Belmont Bruins, 76-72, on Saturday afternoon at the Curb Event Center.
UNI and Belmont exchanged baskets for the opening four and a half minutes before the Bruins found a spark from beyond the three-point line. The Bruins shot an impressive 71% from the floor in the opening stanza, knocking down 10 three-point baskets on 16 attempts to open up a 16-point advantage on the Panthers. A key bright spot for UNI came on the defensive end as the Panthers were able to force 10 Belmont turnovers and notch 15 points off Bruin giveaways. Scoring came at a premium down the stretch of the first half as the Panther defense held Belmont scoreless for three and a half of the final seven minutes of the period, heading to the locker room trailing 44-31.
Both the Panther offense and defense stepped up greatly in the second half as UNI shot 51.5% from the field and held the Bruins under 35%. Thanks to an impressive effort by the Panther bench that scored 17 points, UNI gradually chipped away at Belmont’s 16-point lead and made it a single-digit game for the final 4 minutes. UNI was able to hold the Bruins without a made field goal for the final 4:08 and pulled within one possession in the final minute of play. Belmont however was able to ice the game away in the seconds with a set of free throws by Isaiah Walker and Ben Sheppard to hand UNI the 4-point loss.
Trey Campbell led the Panthers with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 3 rebounds and a pair of steals, while Michael Duax recorded 12 points with 4 boards in the loss. Tytan Anderson posted an 11-point, 9 rebound game with 2 steals, as Drew Daniel scored 9 points with 3 rebounds off the bench. Landon Wolf hit a pair of three-point shots as part of an 8-point performance, with Bowen Born scoring 7 points.
Saturday’s matchup between UNI and Belmont was the first meeting between the two programs all-time.
UNI tied its season-low with only 6 turnovers while forcing 14 Bruin turnovers. The Panthers ended the game outscoring Belmont 21-0 on points off turnovers.
Despite struggling to rebound early in the game, the Panthers outrebounded the Bruins 30-28, including 8-5 in offensive boards.
58% of Belmont’s shot attempts from the floor came from beyond the three-point arc on Saturday.
UNI returns home on Wednesday night as the Panthers play host to Illinois State, seeking to sweep the Redbirds in the regular season for a second straight season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT at the McLeod Center.