CARBONDALE, Ill. - Tornadoes and strong rainstorms ripped through southwestern Illinois to start off this weekend.
And, fittingly, dark clouds remain overhead for the UNI Panthers, who were stunned by a late-game buzzer-beater for a second straight game Saturday, in a 57-55 loss at Southern Illinois.
"It's tough," said guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe.
UNI led this one, 17-4, early, but never displayed a killer instinct. That's becoming a recurring trend; UNI led Missouri State, 6-0, before wilting earlier in the week in a loss to the Bears.
"There were some lulls we've got to get cleaned up," Ahelegbe allowed.
The Panthers (9-5, 0-2 MVC) are still, by and large, a quality team. But the last two losses have proven this team can't afford having anyone take a night off. And, against SIU, Jake Koch and Lucas O'Rear went a combined 4-for-13, and guard Johnny Moran went 2-for-7.
Now, there's no room for error, from here on out.
"There's some things we've got to get better at," coach Ben Jacobson acknowledged.
OFF THE BEATON PATH: After Saturday, Southern Illinois' lead in its all-time series with UNI is 28-19. ... UNI's bench got outscored by a 29-10 margin. ... SIU entered the day as one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation (27.8 percent), but the hosts made 5 of 10 shots from distance in the first half.
With all due respect to the kind people of Saluki-ville, is there a worse place to spend New Year's Eve than rainy, largely-evacuated Carbondale, Ill.?
Nome, maybe? Siberia, perhaps? Gimme a minute, I'll think of some place ...