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Women’s College Basketball: UNI romps over Valparaiso, 89-56

CEDAR FALLS – The Panthers put together their second wire-to-wire performance in Missouri Valley Conference action in an 89-56 win over the Valparaiso Beacons.

CEDAR FALLS – The Panthers put together their second wire-to-wire performance in Missouri Valley Conference action in an 89-56 win over the Valparaiso Beacons.

UNI had its largest margin of victory so far, as 11 of 12 Panthers added to the final score. Along with contributions up and down the lineup, UNI had its best performance behind the arc, shooting 47.6% from three-point range. The Panthers continue to have multiple players score in double-digits, with three members of the UNI roster hitting the 10 or more mark.

“There’s no give me’s in this league,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren following the win. “You have to be ready to play every single night and take the records out of it. Our mindset is how much better can we be this time out and can we make in-game adjustments.

“I thought from start to finish we were very locked in with what we wanted to do defensively. And our offense did a terrific job of distributing the basketball and getting Grace [Boffeli] and Cynthia [Wolf] touches in the paint. It was another terrific team win.”

It was a hot start for UNI as the Panthers began the game on a five-point run. UNI stretched its lead to eight after forward Grace Boffeli made two threes in under three minutes. Valparaiso clawed its way back into the game with a 9-2 run midway through the first to bring the Panthers lead down to one. Sophomore guard Kayba Laube answered for UNI, making back-to-back treys to put the Panthers up by seven. UNI ended the quarter on a 12-point run to lead by 13 after 10 minutes.

The Beacons made it a back-and-forth game to start the second. But multiple four to five-point runs for the Panthers kept them well out of reach. Point guard Maya McDermott contributed a team-high six points in the second, going a perfect three for three from the floor. Four other UNI players helped get the Panthers a 44-28 halftime lead.

UNI completely pulled away from Valpo coming out of halftime, starting the half off on a 10-3 run. The Panthers were up by more than 20 for the rest of the game. Ten UNI players saw the floor in the third quarter, with nine making at least one basket. Guard Cailyn Morgan added five to lead UNI in the third, helped by a trey in the seventh minute. The Panthers went into the final frame up by 23 as Laube made a layup as the clock expired.

Momentum for UNI carried into the fourth as McDermott made a three-pointer in the first second of the quarter. Six points in the first minute had the Panthers at a 29-point lead that quickly pushed into the 30s. UNI put together a nine-point run with threes from Morgan, forward Rachael Heittola, and an and-1 from McDermott to lead by 35. The Panthers pushed the lead to 36 with three and a half minutes to go, but the Beacons would end the game on a 7-2 run. Despite the run, UNI still had its largest scoring margin of the year at 31, winning 89-58.

The Panthers excelled on the floor against Valpo as they shot 53.6% from field goal range, 47.6% from behind the arc, and 79.2% from the free throw line. UNI led in all major offensive categories, including assists (16), points from turnovers (31), points in the paint (30), and points off the bench (37). It was a big defensive night as well, as the Panthers grabbed 29 boards, forced 22 turnovers, made 12 steals, and blocked five shots.

Boffeli led UNI on the floor with 18 points on 61.9% shooting. McDermott and Morgan got into double-figures for the Panthers as well, with 14 and 10 points. Morgan had a perfect night on offense for UNI, not missing one of the eight shots she took. Center Cynthia Wolf led the team in rebounds with eight, while forward Ryley Goebel made seven steals and two blocks.

The Panthers will see their final new Valley opponent over the weekend. UNI welcomes UIC to the McLeod Center for the first time since 2006 in its first game as conference adversaries. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 in Cedar Falls.

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