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Women’s College Basketball: Panthers sideswipe Racers, win final road game of season, 76-48

MURRAY, KENTUCKY – The Panthers put on a dominant performance against the Murray State Racers to win their final road game of the season, 76-48.

MURRAY, KENTUCKY – The Panthers put on a dominant performance against the Murray State Racers to win their final road game of the season, 76-48.

UNI came together for a high-scoring second half after an emotional first following an injury to senior center Cynthia Wolf in the first quarter. The Panthers were able to move away from Murray State on a 10-point run in the third and didn’t look back. Forward Grace Boffeli put up her MVC-leading 12th double-double to lead UNI on both sides of the ball.

“It was a great team win within a tough loss,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “I liked how we responded after the injury. But adversity is nothing new to this team. We’ve been through adversity throughout the course of this season and we’ve handled it well. So I’m not surprised and I’m extremely proud of how we handled it. And I thought in the second half we played pretty good basketball on both sides of the ball.”

It was a slow start as the Panthers would have the only made bucket in the first three minutes of the game. After the three-pointer from guard Kam Finley, the teams would match each other shot for shot through the middle of the quarter. The Racers had the first run of the quarter to go up by three which was immediately matched by a trey from guard Kayba Laube.

After a Murray State miss on UNI’s next possession, Wolf tried to make a layup but was clipped by a Racer defender falling on her knee. The play and fall ended Wolf’s day on the floor, as Boffeli subbed in to make two free throws on the resulting foul. The Panthers had the last points of the first, as point guard Maya McDermott made a floating jump shot, putting UNI up by four.

It continued to be a grind for the Panthers in the second as the offense came in spurts. It seemed like the game had returned to a shot-for-shot pace until UNI made a quick six-point run off back-to-back threes. The run gave the Panthers their first double-digit lead of the day, but Murray State was able to respond with a run of its own to shrink UNI’s lead down to two. The Panthers were able to push the lead back up to four by the end of the first half on more free throws from Boffeli.

The second half started almost identically to the first as neither team made a shot for almost two minutes. Murray State made the first score with a jumper from three-point range. UNI answered almost immediately as McDermott made her first and-1 play of the day. Less than a minute after, the Panthers had their best scoring run of the day, putting together 12 straight points over two and a half minutes. Out to a 14-point lead with under five left in the third, UNI wouldn’t fall under an 11-point lead for the rest of the game.

The Panthers entered the final quarter with a 17-point lead. With most of its starters still in, UNI grew its lead to over 20 within the first three and a half minutes of the frame. The Panthers pulled all of their starters after the under-five media timeout, allowing their bench to close out the game. Point guard Taryn Wharton led the team in points in the fourth, putting up seven on two layups and a three-pointer to end the game. UNI was able to outrun the Racers in its 76-48 win, sealing another year at over .500 on the road.

Almost every statistical category outside of second chance points was led by UNI. On the floor, the Panthers were 29-62 for 46.8% while going 8-25 from behind the arc for 15 assists. UNI also had a strong game at the line at 83.3%, making all but two free throw attempts. On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers made 40 rebounds, 10 steals, and six blocks.

Boffeli and McDermott continued to excel on offense for UNI with double-digit outings. Boffeli led the team with 18 while McDermott put in 13. Forward Ryley Goebel set a career-high against Murray State, making four blocks for the Panthers while grabbing a steal. Nine different UNI players recorded a steal with Boffeli being the only player to grab two.

The Panthers return to the McLeod Center for their final home series of the regular season. UNI will welcome Southern Illinois and Missouri State to Cedar Falls to close out the season. The Panthers look to sweep the season series with the Salukis on Thursday night at 6 p.m.

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