UNI drops UND in opening round of CIT
Huff countered with 22 points for the visitors in a matchup of teams that finished third in their respective leagues. UND played a much more competitive game from the 72-47 mid-November loss to the Panthers, but a pair of 10-2 runs by UNI to open and close the first half came back to haunt UND (16-17) in the end.
The Panthers of the Missouri Valley Conference would extend their lead to 19 points after a slow start by both teams in the second half, but UND put together a late rally to close within eight points. UNI would make enough free throws late to end any thoughts of a UND comeback.
“I thought we played like we have been down the stretch here in those closing 15 minutes, but we needed to play the entire 40 minutes like that if we were going to beat a talented Northern Iowa team,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “
Jamal Webb added 11 points – all coming in the second half – and finished with three steals to fall one short of tying the school’s single-season record in that category. He finished his junior season with 74 steals to bring his career total to 183, which is the best all-time at UND.
UNI was up by eight before junior Josh Schuler came off the bench to hit UND’s first field goal over four minutes into the contest. He had eight quick points, including a pair of 3-pointers, for the Green and White to make it a 14-13 contest just moments later, but UNI had an answer for each of UND’s spurts in the opening 20 minutes and usually came from beyond the arc.
“We knew we needed to defend the 3-point line, but we didn’t do a good job of that in the first half,” Jones said. “I think they hit seven on us and that was really the difference. Our defense picked up in the second half, but we need to have that energy throughout.”
After a 9-0 run built UNI’s lead to double digits in the first half, Huff capped a 9-3 run with his own triple to pull UND within 31-26 with just over four minutes to play in the half, but the Panthers stayed hot from beyond the arc.
Sonnen and James both hit their third treys of the half in the closing minutes to push UNI’s lead to its highest point at 13 and going into the locker room with a 41-28 advantage. James had 15 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, while Sonnen added 11 as the two combined for a 6-for-10 clip from 3-point range.
After shooting 57 percent from the floor in the opening half, the Panthers cooled off from the floor after halftime, allowing UND to creep back into late. Sophomore Lenny Antwi hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the final stanza to help close the gap to single digits, but his two triples would be the only long-distance makes of the half for UND.
Huff’s 22-point effort was his 12th 20-point effort of the season and he finished the season with 1,353 points, which is 11th on the all-time scoring charts at UND.
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