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Women’s College Basketball: UNI suffers 71-67 loss to Missouri State Lady Bears

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Panthers couldn't overcome self-inflicted wounds down the stretch in a 71-67 loss to the Missouri State Lady Bears.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Panthers couldn’t overcome self-inflicted wounds down the stretch in a 71-67 loss to the Missouri State Lady Bears.

UNI held a 14-point lead with 13 minutes left on Thursday night, but fourth-quarter struggles would capsize the Panthers ship. In the final ten minutes, UNI committed eight of its 16 fouls and was scoreless in the last three and a half. The Panthers did continue their strong transition defense, making 10 steals to Missouri States six.

“It’s an extremely disappointing loss,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “I thought for two and a half quarters we played extremely well. We got up 14, and we had four of what I call ‘me plays’. This team is built on sharing the basketball, and we had some individual plays where we could have extended the lead. And instead of kicking it out, we kind of went one on one.

“This is something we’ve got to learn from. You’ve got to give Missouri State credit, they hit some shots, and we lost our poise especially down the stretch. We’ve got to find a way to be better, and we will.

The Panthers got the early lead at Great Southern Bank Arena on back-to-back layups. But most of the first quarter would be an even contest as UNI went toe to toe with the Lady Bears. The Panthers would lead by as much as five in the first off a three from guard Kayba Laube. But Missouri State made the next three baskets to get their only lead of the quarter. UNI had the last bucket in the first to tie everything up 17-17.

While the Panthers controlled much of the first, the Lady Bears got the upper hand at the top of the second. Missouri State would take the lead back on an early three-pointer and keep it for over five minutes. UNI kept within striking distance by matching shots after the first two minutes. A 10-point run returned the lead to the Panthers with a minute and a half in the second. Guard Cailyn Morgan hit a jumper in the last minute to put UNI up by seven going into halftime.

The Panthers continued to roll when play resumed in the third making the first points of the half. UNI went shot-for-shot with the Lady Bears for five minutes. Forward Grace Boffeli scored five straight points for the Panthers to put UNI up by 13. The Panthers had their largest lead of 14 at the 7:11 mark of the third as Morgan moved her way into the paint for a layup. Missouri State answered with a three 10 seconds later to start a five-point run to finish the third.

Five more points were added by the Lady Bears in the first minute of the fourth to shrink UNI’s lead to just four. It returned to a back-and-forth game until Missouri State made a seven-point run to grab its first lead since the second quarter. UNI got back on top with points in the paint midway through the fourth. But the Panther offense went quiet in the final three minutes, going 0-6 to drop the game to the Lady Bears 71-67.

UNI shot well from the floor on Thursday night, going 29-56 (51.8%) through 40 minutes. But the Panthers struggled behind the arc, putting up their lowest three-point shooting percentage of the season at 18.8%. UNI also grabbed a season-low 23 rebounds while making 10 steals and one block.

The Panthers did have three players in double-figures against Missouri State. Guard Maya McDermott led the team with 17 while Boffeli had 13 and guard Emerson Green closely behind with 12. Boffeli led the team in rebounds with seven while McDermott made four steals. UNI’s lone block of the game came from an unlikely player in Green in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers continue their road swing with a stop in Carbondale, Illinois. UNI will face off against the Southern Illinois Salukis for the first time this season after splitting the series in 2022. Tip-off from Banterra Center is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28.

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