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College men's basketball: UNI matches best nonconference run in school history
UNI MEN’S BASKETBALL

College men's basketball: UNI matches best nonconference run in school history

From the 2019-20 UNI men's basketball coverage series

CEDAR FALLS – Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni left the McLeod Center early.

He shook hands with Northern Iowa fans and commented on their Christmas sweaters as he approached the tunnel with a smile of disbelief after picking up a second technical foul midway through the second half of Sunday afternoon’s non-conference finale.

The older brother of Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni saw his team join 10 others in being unable to solve a UNI squad that matched its best non-conference run in school history with an 88-80 victory.

UNI made 27 of a season-high 33 shots from the charity stripe – including five off technical fouls. The Panthers join coach Ben Jacobson’s veteran 2014-15 team that went on to win 31 games by opening with victories in 11 of their first 12 contests.

A crowd of 4,648 fans witnessed this UNI victory, surpassing the previous McLeod Center season-high turnout of 3,705 on opening night.

“Our guys have earned this type of crowd and they really appreciate people coming out and doing this,” Jacobson said. “I talked to our guys, if we want people to spend their money and come watch us, we’ve got to be fun to watch and we’ve got to be a group that is going to work extremely hard – you’re diving on the floor, taking charges and you’re excited because you’re happy for your teammates. This team has done that.”

Point guard AJ Green led the Panthers with 24 points, including 12 free throws and no 3-pointers, as he often worked scoring opportunities off the dribble. Trae Berhow remained hot with four 3-pointers as part of 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. Spencer Haldeman knocked down three 3-pointers during a 13-point game and Isaiah Brown hit a pair of open 3-point looks and his first five shots overall for 12 points.

“Everybody continued to be in attack mode,” Green said, after UNI made 50 percent of its shots from both the field and beyond the 3-point line. “We knew coming into it we were going to have to put pressure on the rim. ... I tried to turn the corner and get in the paint and hit those shots.”

Reserve center Justin Dahl finished with three blocked shots and a pair of steals while becoming the fifth Panther to reach double figures with 10 points. Dahl defended Marshall’s 6-9, 299-pound center Iran Bennett without help, and joined starting center Austin Phyfe in holding him to 11 points and five rebounds, one game removed from a 21-point, 16-rebound performance.

“He’s about as strong as he looks down there in the post,” Dahl said. “It’s a fun challenge for me. I look forward to it and try to be the bigger guy out there.”

UNI trailed just 1 minute, 42 seconds during a first half in which the Panthers used a 16-3 run to spark a 41-38 advantage into intermission. That lead grew to as many as 19 points with 12:54 remaining.

Marshall (5-7) suffered its first loss in three games since point guard Andrew Taylor returned to the lineup. Taylor finished with a game-high 27 points and the Thundering Herd took advantage of a season-high 18 UNI turnovers to cut their deficit to seven twice in the final four minutes.

Green answered with a pull-up jumper outside the paint on the first occasion. On the second occasion, Green stayed on his dribble before swinging the ball out to Haldeman who found Berhow for a catch-and-shoot three that completed a 4-for-4 effort from distance.

“A year ago, especially in the first three months, I don’t know that all those dots would have connected,” Jacobson said. “Right now, those guys, they’ve got such a good comfort level of where other guys are going to be at, and probably as important as anything, they trust each other.”

UNI 88, Marshall 80

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

Bennett 26 4-9 3-6 5 0 3 11

Williams 15 0-3 0-0 4 1 2 0

Taylor 36 10-18 4-5 5 4 3 27

Kinsey 38 4-13 6-6 4 0 2 15

West 40 6-14 2-3 3 1 2 17

Mladinovic 10 1-1 0-0 2 2 4 2

George 21 2-3 0-1 3 1 4 4

Beyers 6 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 0

Sarenac 4 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 2

Brooks-Harris 3 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 2

Team 3

Totals 200 29-64 15-21 29 7 24 80

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

Phyfe 23 0-3 0-1 6 2 5 0

Green34 6-15 12-14 4 3 2 24

Berhow 36 8-12 3-4 11 2 1 23

Brown 28 5-6 0-0 4 1 2 12

Haldeman 34 3-7 4-4 3 1 4 13

Pickford 18 1-1 4-5 2 1 1 6

Dahl 17 3-6 4-5 1 1 1 10

Kimmons 9 0-1 0-0 3 0 1 0

Carter 2 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0

Team 4

Totals 200 26-52 27-33 39 11 17 88

Marshall 38 4280

N. Iowa 41 4788

3-point goals – Marshall 7-24 (Williams 0-3, Talor 3-7, Kinsey 1-4, West 3-8, George 0-1), UNI 9-18 (Green 0-4, Berhow 4-4, Brown 2-3, Haldeman 3-5, Kimmons 0-1, Carter 0-1). Blocks – Marshall 3 (three at 1), UNI 3 (Dahl 3). Turnovers – Marshall 15 (Kinsey 3), UNI 18 (Brown 4). Steals – Marshall 12 (Taylor, Kinsey 4), UNI 6 (Dahl 2).

Att. – 4,648.

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