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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Karli Rucker exploded for a career-high 28 points to lead the University of Northern Iowa women’s basketball team past Southern Illinois Sunday, 76-67.

Rucker, a sophomore guard from Eldridge, made 8 of 14 field goal attempts, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and hit all six of her free throw attempts. Taylor Hagen added 13 points and Mikaela Morgan 10 as UNI improved to 18-10 overall and 11-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Panthers scored the first two baskets of the game and never trailed, although the game was tied briefly. On the other hand, UNI was never able to put the Salukis (13-14, 6-10) away, either, and needed a 12-for-12 performance at the free-throw line over the final 2:06 to lock up the win.

It was a good shooting day all around for the Panthers, who connected on 48 percent overall and 10 of 24 from 3-point range. UNI was also 22 of 23 from the free-throw line.

Southern stayed in the game largely on the strength of its rebounding and its own free throw shooting. The Salukis outrebounded UNI 38-24 and had 21 offensive boards they turned into a 16-3 scoring advantage. They also hit 23 of 26 free throws.

The Panthers now return home to the McLeod Center to wrap up the regular season with a 7 p.m. game against Bradley Thursday and a 2 p.m. matchup against Illinois State Saturday.

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UNI 76, Southern Ill. 67

NORTHERN IOWA (18-10, 11-5) — Rucker 8-14 6-6 28, Kroeger 1-5 0-0 3, Gunnels 1-5 0-0 3, Morgan 1-3 8-8 10, Hagen 5-8 3-4 13, Iverson 0-1 0-0 0, Simon-Ressler 0-2 2-2 2, Wolf 2-3 0-0 4, Hillyard 2-2 0-0 5, Gerrits 2-3 3-3 8. Totals 22-46 22-23 76.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (13-14, 6-10) — Hartman 1-4 0-0 2, Link 0-1 0-0 0, Patrick 3-8 2-2 9, Silvey 6-11 2-2 15, Brockmeyer 2-8 13-16 17, McCallister 1-2 0-0 2, Nelson 0-7 2-2 2, Pudlowski 1-2 0-0 2, Martin 7-14 4-4 18, VanHyfte 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-58 23-26 67.

North. Iowa 17 15 24 20 — 76

Southern Ill. 11 15 21 20 — 67

3-point goals — UNI 10-24 (Rucker 6-9, Kroeger 1-4, Gunnels 1-4, Hagen 0-1, Iverson 0-1, Wolf 0-1, Hillyard 1-1, Gerrits 1-2), Southern Illinois 2-16 (Hartman 0-2, Patrick 1-3, Silvey 1-5, Brockmeyer 0-1, Nelson 0-4, VanHyfte 0-1). Rebounds — UNI 24 (Gunnels 4, Morgan 4, Hagen 4), Southern Illinois 38 (Brockmeyer 13). Assists — UNI 14 (Gunnels 3, Gerrits 3), Southern Illinois 8 (Patrick 4). Turnovers — UNI 14 (five with two), Southern Illinois 11 (Silvey 2, Martin 2). Blocks — UNI 4 (four with one), Southern Illinois 2 (Hartman 1, Martin 1). Steals — UNI 4 (Rucker 2), Southern Illinois 6 (Patrick 2, Brockmeyer 2, Nelson 2). Total fouls — UNI 23, Southern Illinois 19. Fouled out — Gunnels, Hillyard, Patrick. Att. — 453.

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