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CEDAR FALLS — The type of Twilight Zone plays that get magnified when a team is struggling resurfaced for the University of Northern Iowa’s basketball squad Saturday afternoon inside the McLeod Center.

This time, UNI persevered.

Trae Berhow stole North Dakota’s baseline entry pass and time expired as UNI secured a wild and hard-fought 64-62 victory over the Fighting Hawks, snapping a five-game losing streak to NCAA Division I opponents.

“I think it was big for us to win this game,” said Berhow, who knocked down four 3-pointers, including a go-ahead triple with 2:46 remaining. “Coach was preaching hard, don’t give up. Keep believing in the team. There’s no 99 percent no 99.9, it’s all 100 percent in. It kind of showed today.”

UNI (5-7) had to overcome a bizarre series of miscues to prevail on this day.

With the teams battling in a one-possession contest in the second half, Isaiah Brown missed an open baseline dunk. A couple possessions later, Wyatt Lohaus bounced a breakaway dribble off his knee.

In the final two minutes, Biggie Goldman’s putback dunk ricocheted off the rim for a second time, and a five-second violation gave North Dakota an opportunity to tie or win the game on the final shot.

“I talked to the guys about this for quite a while after the game, it’s been a grind,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “There’s some possessions that are just a little bit tricky. I bring that up because that part wears on you, as well.

“I think it’s great that the guys can have some days at home with their family right now. ... Now they can really enjoy it with a smile on their face and not be thinking about a game that we weren’t able to take care of.”

Goldman’s last miscue was an outlier within what was the best game of his UNI career. The junior college transfer led the Panthers with 16 points and 11 rebounds. His missed dunk bounced back to Lohaus, who netted a short jumper that gave UNI the lead for good, 62-60, with 1:16 remaining.

“It was crazy because I’ve got to get those putbacks down,” Goldman said. “I’ve been missing too many of those. They keep slipping out or something. We were lucky it bounced to Wyatt. I told him after the game it was a good pass from me so it was all part of the plan.”

Of Goldman’s rebounds, seven were on the offensive end for the stretch-four recruit who ended up playing all 20 minutes of the second half at the center position.

“We talked to our guys about turning the tables there,” Jacobson said, after UNI gave up 15 offensive rebounds during Wednesday’s loss to Grand Canyon. “We end up with 15 (offensive rebounds) ourselves tonight. That was an emphasis for us the last couple days. We sent more guys to the boards.”

It could have been a long seven days before UNI returned to action against Stony Brook inside the McLeod Center had North Dakota (6-7) been able to capitalize on a pair of opportunities in the final minute. Kienan Walter missed two free throws, and the ball slipped off the hands of Conner Avants — who led his team with 19 points — on an open layup attempt that would have tied the game with 11 seconds remaining.

After UNI’s AJ Green hit a pair of free throws with 7 seconds left, North Dakota’s Marlon Stewart drove the court for a quick layup that cut the deficit to 64-62. The Panthers then gave away the ball on a five-second violation, but didn’t allow North Dakota to get off a shot as Berhow stole the ensuing entry pass.

“For us, finishing has been an issue,” North Dakota coach and former UNI basketball player Brian Jones said of his team that has 11 newcomers. “We’ve been in a lot of tight games.

“We tried to get three options (on the final play) — two at the rim and one for a catch and shoot situation. They did a great job of blowing things up and fighting through screens.”

Despite finishing 0-for-6 from 3-point range, Green manged 10 points and six rebounds, showing maturity at the point guard position with six assists and two turnovers. His no-look pass to Luke McDonnell gave UNI a 10-point lead in the first half before the Panthers’ offense went cold. Green conquered a double-team down the stretch with a poised assist to Goldman for an easy layup.

“After last game when they started to trap and I turned it over a few times, I met with Coach Jake,” Green said. “We watched the film of that and we talked about decision-making. I just had to stay on my dribble and be patient. Guys would be open, and I was able to find them and they made plays.”

North Dakota led by as many as five points in the second half before UNI used a zone press to trigger enough stops for a seven-point run, and the game remained a one-possession battle over the final four minutes.

Assessing his freshman point guard’s development, Jacobson took pride in the leadership Green revealed.

“By nature he’s quiet,” Jacobson said. “Today in all of our huddles he either, at the start or when we broke it, he was talking about getting a stop. That’s the most vocal I have heard him coming in and out of our huddles.”

UNI 64, N. Dakota 62

N. Dakota Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Brown 30 1-3 0-0 3 4 1 3

Panoam 9 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 0

Rebraca 17 3-6 3-4 5 0 4 9

Seales 35 4-9 2-3 4 2 1 10

Avants 33 6-8 7-10 4 1 4 19

Stewart 22 4-7 0-1 0 1 4 9

Moody 26 2-7 0-0 3 1 1 6

Walter 26 1-2 4-7 4 3 4 6

Hazekamp 2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0

Team 1

Totals 200 21-42 16-26 27 12 20 62

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

Pickford 11 1-3 0-1 0 2 0 2

Green 33 3-12 4-4 6 6 3 10

Wentzien 17 2-4 0-2 1 1 1 5

Berhow 28 4-9 0-0 6 1 4 12

McDonnell 8 2-2 0-0 0 0 2 5

Dahl 4 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0

Goldman 26 4-6 6-8 11 2 3 16

Lohaus 23 3-9 1-2 5 3 3 8

Brown 23 1-5 1-2 3 0 3 4

Haldeman 27 1-4 0-0 3 0 2 2

Team 2

Totals 200 21-55 12-19 37 15 21 64

N. Dakota 29 33 — 62

N. Iowa 32 32 — 64

3-point goals — North Dakota 4-13 (Brown 1-3, Seales 0-1, Stewart 1-3, Moody 2-5, Walter 0-1), UNI 10-29 (Pickford 0-1, Green 0-6, Wentzien 1-2, Berhow 4-7, McDonnell 1-1, Goldman 2-3, Lohaus 1-3, Brown 1-3, Haldeman 0-3). Blocks — North Dakota 1 (Hazekamp), UNI 1 (Wentzien). Turnovers — North Dakota 14 (Avants 4), UNI 14 (five at 2). Steals — North Dakota 5 (Moody 2), UNI 2 (Berhow, McDonnell).

Officials—Smith, Grimshaw, Simmons. Att.—3,619.

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