Bears Suffer Significant Loss to UNI

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.

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