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UPDATE: UNI holds off Evansville for road win
Northern Iowa MEN’S BASKETBALL

UPDATE: UNI holds off Evansville for road win

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Evansville couldn’t make a shot in the first half, and couldn’t miss in the second.

Northern Iowa’s offense was steady enough to avoid an upset bid from a Purple Aces’ team winless in Missouri Valley Conference play, 80-68, Saturday afternoon inside the Ford Center.

UNI (19-3, 8-2 MVC) attempted a season-low 10 3-pointers. The Panthers instead did much of their work off drives and in the low post during a game in which they outshot Evansville 50-48.1% and scored 10 more points at the free throw line.

“They showed early on that part of their defensive game plan was going to be to stay close to the 3-point shooters, to get outside some driving lanes to take away the catch-and-shoot stuff,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “That left some spots where we got two-to-one and dropped it off at the rim for our bigs.”

Starting center Austin Phyfe played through foul trouble to lead UNI with a game-high 16 points in 18 minutes. Phyfe’s 7-foot back-up Justin Dahl added eight points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.

“We knew JD (Dahl) and myself would have a little bit of a size advantage,” said Phyfe, who has made all 13 of his field goal attempts over the last two games. “We looked there early and saw that we were able to get a couple of easy buckets, so we were able to go there late down the stretch, as well.

“It’s nice just knowing that when I’m in there I can do what I can to help out the team. A lot of kudos to JD for coming off the bench and playing some great minutes, great defense.”

Evansville (9-14, 0-10) was streaky throughout this game.

The Purple Aces missed 16 of their first 19 shots and were held to a season-low point total at intermission, trailing 30-16. Evansville then made its first eight shots of a second half in which it finished 18-for-26 on field goal attempts and scored 52 points.

“You’d like to come out of the locker room and defensively hold down the fort and give yourself a chance to get to 20 (point lead) before it gets to 10,” Jacobson said. “I give Evansville credit. They got to some stuff and some guys stepped up and made some plays and made some shots, but at that point you’d love to start the second half with some stops.”

Evansville’s second-half outburst – following a first half in which the Aces were 0-for-10 from distance – included three 3-pointers and three free throws to cut UNI’s lead to 42-38 with 14:14 remaining. Forward Evan Kuhlman and guards Sam Cunliffe and K.J. Riley each scored 14 points to lead the Aces’ charge.

UNI was an efficient 5-for-10 on its limited perimeter looks. Trae Berhow answered with a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to spark a quick 8-0 run capped by a deep transition shot from AJ Green that pushed the Panthers’ lead to 12.

Evansville later cut its deficit to seven before Dahl scored twice inside with a blocked shot on defense sandwiched in between those baskets.

Phyfe, who had been sitting with four fouls since the 15:47 mark of the second half, re-entered with 6:32 remaining. He instantly went to work with a layup off a set play that freed him up under the hoop and added traditional three-point play through contact.

Seven of Phyfe’s scoring total came during his closing stretch. Berhow and Green each added 15 points. Green shot just 5-for-15 from the field with two 3-pointers, but essentially clinched the victory with a mid-range, pull-up jumper in the last minute.

It was a different path to victory for UNI after making 17 3-pointers against Missouri State in its previous game.

UNI attempted just one shot from distance over the first 13 minutes. The Panthers’ initial 18 points came in the paint.

“It just shows how diverse our team is,” Berhow said. “We don’t have to shoot 3s to win games. We can find other ways to win. We’ve got post players that can score in the paint, (guards) can get in the paint and score. We’ve got mid-range shots and we can get to boards and make free throws.”

With UNI sitting at 14 points 15 minutes into the game, freshmen Antwan Kimmons and Noah Carter sparked the Panthers with 13 of the team’s 16 points over the final five minutes of the first half.

Carter ended up knocking down UNI’s first 3-pointer after he was inserted at the 5 position to counter Evansville’s five-guard switch. He was later fouled on a 3-pointer and made all of the free throws to push the halftime lead to 14.

“The punch that Antwan and Noah gave us in the first half may have been the key to the game, to get us that jump and get us that lead at halftime,” Jacobson said.

Through some adversity, UNI persevered by taking a different path to victory.

“I think it was good for us to get one of those games where not everything was falling, not everything was going our way,” Phyfe said. “We just had to stick with it and grind a game out.”

2019-20 UNI men's basketball coverage

Here's the Courier's coverage of UNI men's basketball this season:

UNI 80, Evansville 68

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

Phyfe 18 6-6 4-5 3 0 4 16

Green 33 5-15 3-4 5 1 3 15

Berhow 37 6-12 2-4 5 1 2 15

Brown 36 0-4 4-4 3 3 1 4

Haldeman 31 1-3 6-6 3 1 2 9

Pickford 6 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0

Dahl 13 4-5 0-0 5 0 0 8

Kimmons 15 2-3 1-2 2 3 1 5

Carter 9 2-3 3-3 1 0 1 8

Conrey 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Betz 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

McDonnell 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Team 3

Totals 200 26-52 23-28 30 9 16 80

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

Kuhlman 23 5-7 3-3 4 0 4 14

Hall 24 3-8 2-2 5 1 2 8

Newton 19 3-5 0-0 1 0 2 7

Cunliffe 34 6-17 0-0 5 1 3 14

Riley 38 5-8 4-5 4 3 3 14

Frederking 28 2-2 0-0 3 2 1 5

Givance 21 1-2 3-4 1 2 2 5

Labinowicz 13 0-3 1-2 4 1 1 1

Team 1

Totals 200 25-52 13-16 28 10 18 68

N. Iowa 30 5080

Evansville 16 5268

3-point goals – UNI 5-10 (Green 2-3, Berhow 1-4, Haldeman 1-1, Carter 1-2), Evansville 5-20 (Kuhlman 1-3, Hall 0-2, Newton 1-2, Cunliffe 2-8, Riley 0-2, Frederking 1-1, Givance 0-1, Labinowicz 0-1). Blocks – UNI 3 (Phyfe, Dahl, Berhow), Evansville 1 (Hall). Turnovers – UNI 13 (Green 4), Evansville 13 (Kuhlman, Cunliffe 3). Steals – UNI 9 (Phyfe 3), Evnasville 9 (four at 2).

Officials – Malham, Crenshaw, Boeh. Att. – 4,669.

UNI 80, Evansville 68

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

Phyfe 18 6-6 4-5 3 0 4 16

Green 33 5-15 3-4 5 1 3 15

Berhow 37 6-12 2-4 5 1 2 15

Brown 36 0-4 4-4 3 3 1 4

Haldeman 31 1-3 6-6 3 1 2 9

Pickford 6 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0

Dahl 13 4-5 0-0 5 0 0 8

Kimmons 15 2-3 1-2 2 3 1 5

Carter 9 2-3 3-3 1 0 1 8

Conrey 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Betz 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

McDonnell 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Team 3

Totals 200 26-52 23-28 30 9 16 80

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

Kuhlman 23 5-7 3-3 4 0 4 14

Hall 24 3-8 2-2 5 1 2 8

Newton 19 3-5 0-0 1 0 2 7

Cunliffe 34 6-17 0-0 5 1 3 14

Riley 38 5-8 4-5 4 3 3 14

Frederking 28 2-2 0-0 3 2 1 5

Givance 21 1-2 3-4 1 2 2 5

Labinowicz 13 0-3 1-2 4 1 1 1

Team 1

Totals 200 25-52 13-16 28 10 18 68

N. Iowa 30 5080

Evansville 16 5268

3-point goals – UNI 5-10 (Green 2-3, Berhow 1-4, Haldeman 1-1, Carter 1-2), Evansville 5-20 (Kuhlman 1-3, Hall 0-2, Newton 1-2, Cunliffe 2-8, Riley 0-2, Frederking 1-1, Givance 0-1, Labinowicz 0-1). Blocks – UNI 3 (Phyfe, Dahl, Berhow), Evansville 1 (Hall). Turnovers – UNI 13 (Green 4), Evansville 13 (Kuhlman, Cunliffe 3). Steals – UNI 9 (Phyfe 3), Evnasville 9 (four at 2).

Officials – Malham, Crenshaw, Boeh. Att. – 4,669.

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