CEDAR FALLS – UNI picked up a big 76-50 win over the Bradley Braves Saturday night.
UNI posted a dominating 76-50 win over Bradley after a tough last-minute loss to Illinois State on Thursday evening. The Panthers led in almost every category on Saturday afternoon, including their second-best game in assists with 26. Forward Grace Boffeli had another big offensive performance for UNI, leading the Panthers in points, rebounds, and assists with point guard Maya McDermott.
“We had a good bounce-back win,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “That’s what we were looking for, I thought we did a terrific job. Bradley is a good team and they’re constantly improving. So, we just talked about how we don’t need to be up 10, 12, or 20 at the end of the first or second. We’ve just got to continue to do what we do and, in the end, wear them out.
“We made some good second-half adjustments, our defense was good and allowed us to get out and score points in transition. But I thought we did a terrific job of sharing the basketball, 26 assists, and only 11 turnovers. It was a good team win.”
Guard Kam Finley got UNI’s offense going early with a three-point jump shot in the first 20 seconds of the game. The Panthers continued to control the game through the first six minutes, pulling out to a seven-point lead after two back-to-back and-1s from Boffeli. But the Braves ended the first on an 8-1 run to take their only lead from UNI.
It took a couple of minutes for the Panthers to find their offense again in the second quarter. Guard Emerson Green had two threes in three possessions to recapture the lead for UNI. A Bradley and-1 play tied the game back up. The Panthers responded with four points in a minute to put a bit of a gap between themselves and the Braves. Through the final five minutes of the second, it was a back-and-forth contest. Until center Cynthia Wolf hit a second-chance layup to spark UNI’s final run of the half to go up by six.
The Panthers completely pulled away from Bradley early in the third quarter. McDermott hit two straight treys in the first minute to give UNI a double-digit lead. Three minutes later, McDermott and guard Kayba Laube hit two more threes for a 16-point advantage. The Braves tried to cut into the Panther lead, but UNI closed out the third on a 10-2 run. With only 10 minutes to go, the Panthers had a commanding 19-point lead.
A seven-point run to open the fourth helped to seal a UNI win over Bradley. McDermott’s fourth three of the afternoon pushed the Panthers up to a 24-point lead with seven and a half left in the ball game. The rest of the contest was a basket-for-basket affair, but a brief five-point run gave UNI its last edge. Point guard Taryn Wharton had the final points for the Panthers as they cruised to a 76-50 win over the Braves.
UNI had its best day on the floor in two weeks going 29-63 for 46%. The Panthers also had a nice day behind the arc at 42.3%, going 11 of 26. The entire roster shared the ball well, picking up 26 assists for their second-best game of the season. The good sharing continued on defense with 41 rebounds, five steals, and five blocks.
Along with Boffeli, McDermott, and Laube had double-digit scoring outings at 17, 16, and 10 points. The dynamic duo of Boffeli and McDermott also led UNI in assists with five apiece. Forward Ryley Goebel continued her strong defensive performance after returning from concussion protocol, picking up two steals and two blocks.
The Panthers hit the road for the final time in the regular season next week. UNI will visit the two MVC newcomers next week the Belmont Bruins and the Murray State Racers. The final road trip of the season will stop in Nashville first for an evening matchup with the Bruins at Curb Event center. Tipoff from Tennessee is set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23.