EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Four Panther starters cracked double-digit scoring figures on Saturday as UNI men’s basketball dropped a physical overtime contest to the Evansville Purple Aces at the Ford Center, 91-89.
Facing off against the Missouri Valley Conference’s (MVC) leading team in fastbreak points, UNI outscored the Purple Aces 20-10 in fastbreak plays, and outscored Evansville 13-8 off turnovers. The Purple Aces outrebounded the Panthers 34-29 and shot seven more free throw attempts than UNI, ultimately securing the win in the final seconds on a three-point basket by Tanner Cuff.
Trey Campbell set the tone with a three-point bucket on the first shot of the game, but the Purple Aces would strike right back and take the lead for the majority of the first half on a 13-2 run. UNI would struggle in the first ten minutes to finish at the basket, but would draw eight Evansville fouls during the opening period and earn ten free throw attempts. A 7-2 Panther run would cut the Purple Aces’ lead down to five points, holding Evansville without a field goal for just over five minutes. Northern Iowa would tie the game at 29-29 with three straight three point baskets, including a pair by Nate Heise and one by Bowen Born, as Heise would give UNI the lead on four made free throws. The Panthers would get one final opportunity in the final seconds, scoring on a layup by Tytan Anderson on a lob pass from Heise with 1.2 seconds remaining after a botched Evansville inbounds play, giving UNI a 37-34 lead at halftime.
UNI exchanged baskets with the Purple Aces to begin the second half and both Cole Henry and Born began to heat up from the floor as the Panthers shot 53.3% from the field. Both teams traded three-point baskets with just over five and a half minutes to play in regulation with Born and Heise knocking down a pair of triples as Evansville hit three straight from beyond the arc from Ben Humrichous and Antonio Thomas. The Purple Aces would take a three-point lead with just under three minutes to play on a 6-0 run, but the Panthers would knot the game up at 76-76 on a Campbell three-pointer with one minute, 38 seconds remaining. Kenny Strawbridge Jr. gave Evansville a brief lead with 35 seconds to play on a fastbreak layup, but Tytan Anderson would force overtime with a layup of his own with seven seconds to go in regulation.
In overtime, free throws by Heise and layups by Born and Jacob Hutson gave the Panthers a one-point advantage with two minutes to play, but the Panthers would give up back-to-back three pointers by Thomas and Cuff would put the Purple Aces ahead for good despite four late points by Born.
Anderson finished the afternoon with a season-high 20-point performance with eight made field goals, while Heise recorded 19 points while setting a new career-best with five assists and matching a career-high with three made triples. Hutson notched a season-best 17 points with four assists and eight made baskets, as Born tallied a season-high 17 points, while also recording season-bests in rebounds (5), assists (4), steals (4) and field goals made (6). Henry posted a season-high seven points, while Campbell made a season-best with three made three-pointers and nine points.
UNI falls to 35-30 all-time against the Purple Aces, and have lost four of its last five road games at Evansville.
Saturday’s game was the first overtime matchup between Northern Iowa and Evansville since Jan. 29, 2013, which was won by the Purple Aces by a score of 54-51.
Saturday’s contest marked the third game this season in which four of UNI’s starters finished in double-digit scoring figures (South Florida, Stanford).
The Panthers are 80-11 (.879) under head coach Ben Jacobson when scoring 80+ points in a game.
Tytan Anderson has scored at least one point in 40 consecutive games, the longest streak among active Panthers.
Nate Heise became the 96th player in program history to surpass 600 career points, moving up to 94th on UNI’s all-time scoring list. Heise also recorded his 100th career assist in Saturday’s loss.
Trey Campbell became the fifth active Panther to reach 300 career points, joining teammates Bowen Born, Nate Heise, Tytan Anderson and Michael Duax.
The Panthers return home to the McLeod Center on Wednesday, December 6 to host the Richmond Spiders in non-conference action. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT with live coverage available on ESPN+ and the Panther Sports Radio Network. Tickets can be purchased online at UNIpanthers.com/tickets, or by calling the UNI Ticket Office at 319-273-4849.