Late Rally Lifts UNI Over Drake, 76-66
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Northern Iowa scored on 10 straight possessions late in the second half to push past the Drake University men’s basketball team, 76-66, Saturday evening in the McLeod Center. Jordan Daniels (Fontana, Calif.) led Drake (10-6, 1-3 MVC) in the loss with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
UNI (9-7, 3-1 MVC) shot 50 percent from the field on the evening with its scoring distributed across five players in double figures as Deon Mitchell and Wes Washpun led the way with 17 points each.
“For 35 minutes of the game we put ourselves in position and we need to be able to finish games and finish the last four or five minutes,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “That’s winning time and it’s pretty black-and-white. They [UNI] spread you out and have shooters. We have to be able to find a way to get stops.”
Midway through the second half, Drake went on an 8-1 spurt with four points from Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.), who finished with nine points and six assists, to take a 58-53 lead with 6:54 left in the contest. Drake’s defense held UNI to just three points during a six-minute stretch to amass that lead.
However, the next five minutes saw a 12-point reversal as UNI mounted its charge with back-to-back three-pointers from Matt Bohannon and Nate Buss followed by a Mitchell layup to take a 68-61 lead with 2:07 left in the contest.
“We were trying to play man and get in the gaps and give help,” Giacoletti said. “They get you out of those gaps when they make 3s.”
A pair of easy transition layups from UNI followed to extend the Panthers’ lead to nine points with a minute left and UNI continued to convert at the line to remain a perfect 6-0 at the McLeod Center this season.
“The transition baskets are hard to swallow and we’ve got to be better at slowing people down, especially when we’re sending three back,” Giacoletti said.
The Bulldogs built up their biggest lead in a game that featured 10 lead changes midway through the first half with a 23-16 advantage with 11:15 left in the half. That advantage came by way of a 7-0 run that was ignited by a Chris Caird (Daventry, England) three-pointer and a Jacob Enevold Jensen (Lunderskov, Denmark) putback. Enevold finished the game with six points, five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes as veteran center Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) encountered foul trouble late in the game while putting up seven points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“Jacob became a man tonight,” Giacoletti said of the freshman center. “He played as good of post defense as I’ve seen him play this year and he’s continuing to get better.”
But shortly after Drake took that lead, UNI outscored the Bulldogs, 14-6, over the next 4:15 capping it with a 6-0 spurt to reclaim the lead at 30-29 with 5:40 left in the half. Drake briefly reclaimed the lead once in the half before a Washpun three-pointer sent the teams into the locker rooms with UNI holding a 37-34 lead.
The Bulldogs remain on the road for their next contest, a Wednesday night engagement at Missouri Valley Conference newcomer Loyola. Tipoff at the Ramblers’ Gentile Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.