CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa didn’t get the victory it wanted for the big home crowd of 4,027 that saw Friday night’s showdown against Drake for the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball lead.
The Bulldogs (16-4, 9-0) fought off the Panthers (15-5, 8-1) in a double-overtime epic that lived up to every word of its pregame hype.
“It was a great atmosphere, great game by two good teams,” head coach Tanya Warren said Monday during UNI’s weekly coaches’ luncheon. “As I said to our kids when I walked into the lockerroom, ‘I’m extremely proud of you. Was it our best game? Probably not, but you left your heart on the floor and that’s all I could ask.’
“That game could have gone either way. Drake happened to make some plays down the stretch, and you have to give them credit for that.”
The last time UNI lost a game was Dec. 4 at Iowa. Since then, the Panthers had won 11 straight before Friday’s 88-79 defeat.
“I also said to our kids, ‘If we can learn the lesson that we learned the last time we lost, we will be okay,’” said Warren.
Now it’s up to UNI to stay right on Drake’s heels until the two teams meet again Feb. 24 in Des Moines. This week, the Panthers hit the road for games at Evansville Friday and at Southern Illinois Sunday.
“Winning is hard. Winning on the road is extremely hard,” noted Warren.
TRACK AND FIELD: A busy weekend in the UNI-Dome proved productive for head coach Dave Paulsen’s men’s and women’s teams.
The Panthers delivered 11 performances that rank among the top five in the Missouri Valley Conference and four efforts that cracked UNI’s all-time top five lists.
“It’s all about putting ourselves in position (for the Feb. 25-26 MVC Championships in the UNI-Dome) going forward,” said Paulsen. “We want to try to put as many people in scoring position as we can as each week goes by.”
WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Iowa State had to be at its best Saturday to take down UNI in a dual meet.
“It’s probably the most serious I’ve seen Iowa State have to kind of treat our team, which is a compliment to our girls and our program,” said Panther head coach Doug aHumphrey. UNI heads to Iowa City Friday for a meet against Iowa and Western Illinois.
“We’re right where we need to be,” said Humphrey.
WRESTLING: A pair of road wins at Ohio and Kent State put UNI at 9-2 overall and 6-0 in the Mid-America Conference.
If that hasn’t gotten local wrestling fans’ attention, maybe Sunday’s dual against Top 15 Oklahoma inside the McLeod Center will do the trick.
“We hope to have the McLeod packed,” said head coach Doug Schwab. “It’s been since 2009 since we’ve been in the McLeod for a dual meet, so we’d certainly like to make it a memorable one.
“If anyone remembers the last time Oklahoma was in town, it was a pretty memorable meet (an 18-13 UNI win in 2013 in the West Gym). ... So hopefully what we can do is, we can do that again.”
The Panthers, Schwab added, are worth the price of admission.
“If you can’t be excited about the team and how these guys are competing, I won’t smack you, but I’ll give you a firm rub on the head or something,” said Schwab. “I feel these guys are fun to watch, and they’re getting better.”