ST. LOUIS – UNI shot the lights out in the first half and held on defensively as the ninth-seeded Panthers edged the eighth-seeded Illinois State Redbirds 75-62 in the opening game of Arch Madness on Thursday afternoon at Enterprise Center.
The Panthers have now won 10 consecutive games against the Redbirds, and four straight against Illinois State in the MVC Tournament.
Bowen Born and Tytan Anderson hit a pair of early three-point shots in the first half, while Trey Campbell scored 5 straight points to spark an offensively efficient first half for the Panthers. Attacking the paint and the Redbird defense inside early, UNI converted on 12-of-17 layups to build a double-digit lead and controlled possession with only 3 first half turnovers. The Panther defense also came up big outscoring Illinois State 15-0 off 9 Redbird turnovers in the opening period. Shooting 53.1% from the floor in the period, UNI carried a 44-28 lead into the halftime break.
The Redbirds came out of the locker room aggressively on defense, forcing UNI to commit 8 second half turnovers and converting on 36% of their shot attempts. Despite being held to 25% shooting from the floor as seeing a 21-point lead shrink to 6 points, key shooting by Born from distance and Duax inside the paint kept the Panthers afloat down the stretch. With Born closing with a 14-point second half, UNI was able to hold off a surging Redbird team and secure the 13-point victory.
Born finished the afternoon with a game-high 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting with 4 made three-points. Duax scored 19 points with 5 rebounds on 80% shooting, with Anderson posting a 16-point performance. Campbell notched 7 points in the win.
Each of UNI’s last three Arch Madness opening wins have come against the Redbirds.
The Panthers are 3-0 in first round games at Arch Madness under head coach Ben Jacobson, and 5-7 all-time.
Ben Jacobson has now won 19 games at Arch Madness, second most only to Dana Altman’s (Creighton) 21.
UNI is 7-6 against Illinois State at the MVC Tournament, the most wins against any opponent the Panthers have played since joining the league in 1992-93.
Tytan Anderson tied his career-high with 2 made three-point field goals, his first game with multiple three-pointers since Jan. 2021.
UNI will take on MVC regular season champion and top-seeded Bradley Braves at 12 p.m. CT at Enterprise Center on Friday. The Panthers lost both regular season matchups to the Braves and will match up with Bradley in the MVC Tournament for the first time since the 2019 championship game. UNI is 3-3 against the Braves all-time in St. Louis, and 11-11 in the quarterfinal round of Arch Madness (8-7 under Jacobson).