by Rick Kindhart
Visiting Northern Iowa came out blazing and collected its eighth win in nine games here Saturday, making nine of its first 10 shots to set a blistering pace en route to an 80-57 win over Missouri State in MVC play.
The Panthers (14-2, 3-1 MVC) got 28 points from sophomore A.J. Green who went 6-of-8 from 3-point range, while Isaiah Brown knocked down five triples en route to a 19-point game for UNI.
After falling behind 26-6 just over eight-and-a-half minutes into the game, Missouri State (8-9, 2-2 MVC) played nearly even the rest of the night, but the early deficit was too much to overcome. The Panthers answered nearly every Missouri State run with a barrage of 3-pointers, finishing the night 13-of-22 from beyond the arc after making 8-of-10 out of the gates.
Isiaih Mosley led three Missouri State players in double figures with 15 points, while Tulio Da Silva tallied 13 points and 7 rebounds, and Gaige Prim contributed 10 points.
“I’m just disappointed in how we played,” said Bears’ head coach Dana Ford. “You probably can’t — against a good team — dig yourself out of a 20-point hole. That’s extremely difficult. You can’t give them open looks. They’re going to knock them down.”
The visitors took a 48-28 lead into the half, and the Bears tallied three of the first four field goals of the second half to get within 17 on a second-chance bucket from Prim. Inside play continued to give MSU a chance with Da Silva and Prim reeling off five scoring plays in the first five minutes of the final stanza, but after Prim’s hook shot with 14:30 to play, UNI went on a 17-0 run over the next five minutes to put it out of reach. By the time the dust settled, the Panthers held a 73-39 advantage with nine-and-a-half minutes to play.
To their credit, the Bears refused to wave a white flag and responded by holding UNI without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, going on a 13-2 outburst led by Mosley, Ja’Monta Black and Prim to climb back within 75-52 headed into the final three minutes of the contest.
The Bears finished 23-of-64 (.359) from the field and 4-of-14 (.286) from 3-point range, while converting 7-of-12 (.583) charity shots.
From the silver lining-perspective, Missouri State turned the ball over just 5 times, a season low, and tallied 11 offensive rebounds – matching their second-most offensive caroms since the LSU game in November — that led to 13 second-chance points. MSU also led in every specialty category, including points in the paint (28), points off turnovers (15), bench points (17) and fast-break points (4).
Northern Iowa was 30-of-56 (.536) from the field, the second-best shooting performance by an opponent this season (LSU shot .537), while dropping in 13-of-22 (.591) 3-pointers, by far the best long-range percentage by an MSU foe in 2019-20. The Panthers also were 7-of-10 (.700) from the free throw line with a 38-29 rebounding advantage and 12 turnovers.
The Bears complete their two-game home swing Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Bradley at JQH Arena. In addition to the recognition of 238 Missouri State student-athletes on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll at halftime, the game pits the Bears against the defending MVC Tournament champion Braves in their first meeting since March 8 in St. Louis.