NORMAL, Ill. – The UNI Panthers, the two-time, defending MVC champions, shouldn’t apologize for Wednesday’s ugly, 46-44 win at last-place Illinois State.
Sure, most of the final statistics favored the Redbirds, but do you really think the Panthers care? Hey, a league road win – like a baby – can never truly be ugly, can it?
UNI (12-6, 3-3 MVC) simply needed a win by any means possible on this night. And, when the dust settled, they got it.
“Our guys are still extremely confident,” said coach Ben Jacobson, whose team has now beaten Illinois State on six straight occasions.
Still, it was kind of wild how UNI overcame the odds Wednesday, considering:
The Panthers were outrebounded, 38-31. … UNI shot just 2-for-17 (11.8 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. … Johnny Moran was limited to 2-for-11 shooting. … The visitors were outscored, 22-10, in the paint. … And, the Panthers made just 6 of 11 free-throw attempts.
Yet, Wednesday’s outcome is also a testament to how key protecting the basketball can be. The Panthers committed just four total turnovers – a big reason why they were victorious in the end.
OFF THE BEATON PATH:
According to one UNI official, Panther senior swing man Kerwin Dunham at least mildly sprained an ankle Wednesday, midway through the first half.