CEDAR FALLS — With 4:30 to play in Sunday’s game against Loyola, Tywhon Pickford’s banked-in 3-pointer looked like it might be exactly what a struggling Northern Iowa team needed to end a prolonged losing streak.

Sadly, those types of breaks aren’t going the Panthers’ way, at least not yet.

Ben Richardson hit a go-ahead 3 with just over three minutes to play as Loyola raced back to top UNI 56-50, dropping the Panthers to 0-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference with their sixth-consecutive loss overall.

Pickford brought the McLeod Center to its feet minutes earlier. With the shot clock winding down, he banked in a triple from the top of the key just before the buzzer sounded, giving the Panthers’ a 48-45 lead.

But the momentum didn’t carry over. After Cameron Krutwig hit two free throws off a timeout, Richardson hit the decisive 3 as part of a 7-0 run.

“Most teams, a shot like that goes in ... most teams crumble after that,” Pickford said of his 3. “But they didn’t. They stuck with it and fought through it.”

After Wyatt Lohaus got UNI back within two, the Panthers had a chance to tie the game or take the lead after a stop. But a Bennett Koch pass to Pickford, one that Pickford said was kicked but went uncalled, ended up in the hands of Rambler guard Donte Ingram, who converted a layup at the other end.

Koch, Pickford and Lohaus all scored in double figures for the Panthers, finishing with 17, 15 and 11 points, respectively. Pickford also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, with Koch right behind with nine.

But for the second straight game, UNI struggled to find any secondary scoring options. As was the case in Thursday’s loss at Missouri State, three players combined for all but seven of UNI’s points.

Panther coach Ben Jacobson noted the offensive struggles afterward, saying they need to be corrected if his team is to have any chance to reverse course this season.

“We aren’t getting enough points on the board throughout the course of the game,” Jacobson said. “That puts us in a really tough spot.

“(Loyola scored) 23 at halftime. When Southern Illinois was in here, they got a 3 at the horn to get 22. In both games we’re ahead by three. If you’ve got a team at 22, 23 on your home court, you should be up nine, 10, 11, 12.”

Jacobson insisted after an 0-2 start that the sky wasn’t falling in Cedar Falls, a stance he continues to hold, even as the streak has doubled and the Panthers remain the only team without a win in MVC play.

“Our guys are around us all the time,” Jacobson said. “So they understand ... the things that are important. Those things don’t change after a win or a loss.

“They’re frustrated no question, but I’m not worried about that turning into something that’s going to hurt our team. Because they understand what’s important to us and what it takes to play better.”

Koch agreed with his coach, saying the mood around the team continues to be a positive one despite the prolonged struggles.

“We all still enjoy being around each other,” Koch said. “It’s fun at practice, that part hasn’t changed. It’s just things aren’t going our way right now. We’re going to come back together like we always do and we’re going to figure (it) out. This is going to be all right.”

BLOCK PARTY: Koch, who had just 12 blocks on the season coming in, had perhaps the best defensive stretch of his career in the second half Sunday.

Koch blocked a career-best five shots against Loyola, all of them taking place from the 10:37 to 5:49 stretch of the second half.

“I don’t know where that came from,” Koch said. “I just found a rhythm. They weren’t paying attention to me because that’s usually not my thing.

“Game was close, I really wanted this one. I was just trying to do whatever I could to get this game.”

UNI, which is now 8-8 overall, looks to avoid a second consecutive 0-5 Valley start when it travels to Indiana State for a 6 p.m. tip Wednesday.

Loyola 56, UNI 50

Loyola Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Ingram 29 3-9 1-3 6 1 3 8

Townes 22 1-4 2-2 3 2 0 4

Custer 32 4-12 0-0 1 4 0 11

Richardson 25 3-4 0-0 3 2 2 9

Krutwig 18 2-8 5-6 5 0 4 9

Williamson 32 2-4 1-2 5 1 1 7

Skokna 13 2-3 0-0 1 0 0 4

Avery 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Negron 5 0-2 0-0 1 0 1 0

Satterwhite 5 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0

Jackson 17 2-7 0-0 4 1 4 4

Team 3

Totals 200 19-54 9-13 33 11 15 56

UNI Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Carlson 33 1-4 0-0 4 0 0 2

Pickford 39 6-11 1-2 11 1 1 15

McCloud 28 0-6 2-2 2 4 2 2

Brown 13 0-2 0-0 0 0 2 0

Koch 31 7-14 3-4 9 2 3 17

McDermott 6 0-2 0-0 1 1 0 0

Friedman 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0

Haldeman 17 1-5 0-0 1 2 4 3

W. Lohaus 31 4-8 0-0 6 3 3 11

Team 3

Totals 200 19-52 6-8 37 13 16 50

Loyola 23 33 — 56

N. Iowa 26 24 — 50

3-point goals—Loyola 9-22 (Custer 3-7, Richardson 3-4, Williamson 2-3, Ingram 1-5, Skokna 0-1, Satterwhite 0-1, Jackson 0-1) UNI 6-20 (W. Lohaus 3-5, Pickford 2-5, Haldeman 1-4, Carlson 0-2, McCloud 0-2, McDermott 0-2) Steals—Loyola 9 (Williamson 3, Ingram 2, Richardson 2, Townes 1, Custer 1) UNI 2 (McCloud and Brown 1). Blocks — Loyola 3 (3 with 1), UNI 5 (Koch 5). Turnovers — Loyola 7, UNI 12.

Officials—Eades, Smith, Janssen. Att.—3,765

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Sports Reporter

Sports Writer at the Courier

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