CEDAR FALLS — The Northern Iowa women’s basketball team got a wake-up call last Sunday.
Against the Evansville Purple Aces, the Panthers took a 14-point, 27-13 lead with 6:26 remaining in the second quarter.
However, Evansville cut the lead to five at halftime and tied the game 47-47 by the end of the third quarter.
In the end, UNI prevailed 73-68, but head coach Tanya Warren described the game as a “wake-up call” for her team.
“That’s something we talked about,” Warren said. “We got up 14 and stopped defending and started fouling. You must not allow anyone to get to the free-throw line. We started messing up some defensive assignments… That’s something we talked about. Don’t get bored, get better.”
A little over a week later, Warren said the Panthers had shown growth in that area of their game in runaway victories over Valparaiso and the University of Illinois Chicago.
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“We stayed stuck and consistent with what we were doing defensively,” Warren said. “We talked about not getting bored but getting better. We were able to extend our lead in both games… We’ve gotten better. We really grew as a team over the weekend.”
With wins of 33 and 35, the Panthers demonstrated a significant improvement over their game against Evansville. Warren said she felt UNI didn’t slack off like younger teams do when they take significant leads.
Overall, Warren said she was “very pleased” with what her team was able to do over the weekend.
This week, the Panthers meet Missouri State in Springfield on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and Southern Illinois in Carbondale on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.
10-7 in the season and 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference game, the Lady Bears pose a bigger threat to the conference-leading Panthers.
Missouri State ranks fifth nationally in offensive rebounds per game with 17.4 and seventh in rebound margin with a margin of 11.4.
“They’re very athletic,” Warren said. “You’re a great size. They can score inside and out… State of Missouri, they’re a liability… We gotta unpack. The second shot can hurt you and the third shot will be a dagger. We have to be able to unpack.”
Wrestling hopes to grab the McLeod against rival Oklahoma State: Doug Schwab has an idea for how Panthers fans could spend their Saturday night.
UNI’s wrestling coach, who hosted a doubleheader against Big 12 rival and No. 12 state Oklahoma, said he wants fans to fill McLeod Center.
“We expect there will be a full house on Saturday night,” Schwab said. “We need it. Our team and how they did deserved that I think. The way our guys scrap and fight and fight and score and it’s an exciting product. I hope people line up and are ready to go.”
Schwab offered a triple pitch why UNI fans or Iowa wrestling fans should pack the stands to see the Pokes and Panthers.
“It’s the state of Oklahoma that we’re wrestling with,” Schwab said. “We can’t stand them… It’s a rivalry, it’s heated.”
Second, in Dustin Plott (174) and Daton Fix (133), the Cowboys offer a high-ranked opponent for Schwab and his No. 15 Panthers with a lineup that includes two All-Americans.
“When I went into the Big 12, Oklahoma State was one of the main reasons,” Schwab said. “They are always one of the best programs in the country. They want them on the schedule every year.”
Finally, Schwab spoke about the impact fans can have on the outcome of the game and the quality of the Panthers’ lineup as even more reason for people to show their support.
“The way we set it up, with the fans on the side with the seats, it feels like they’re right above you,” Schwab said. “It’s like home because that’s what we were used to at West Gym. It’s up to us to launch a product that people want to see. I’ll tell you that if you look up and down our lineup, it’s a lineup that people should want to see and get behind.
The Panthers vs. Cowboys duel begins on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I highly encourage you to get your a– out here,” Schwab said. “I’ve been here for a couple of these (basketball) games when it’s packed. It’s electric.”
Santi sets new track record: A 23-year-old record has been broken for the UNI athletics team.
Redshirt senior Rylan Santi clocked the fastest time in program history at last weekend’s Larry Wieczorek Invitational in Iowa City, with a performance of 7.49 seconds in the 60-meter dash.
Santi’s time surpassed Melissa Campbell’s previous mark of 7.50 from 2000.
“She’s been on the verge of that for a few weeks since the start of the season,” said Paulsen. “So to see her get that is really outstanding.”
Paulsen called the record a testament to Santi’s work ethic and development since joining UNI from Madrid high school.
“Their development has been so great to see year after year,” Paulsen said. “She was one of those COVID kids who was undecided on whether to come back or not. [She] made the decision mid-year last year…I think she definitely doesn’t regret it now.”