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EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Northern Iowa raced out to a big early lead and cruised to a 74-46 Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball victory at Evansville Friday night.

The Panthers (11-7, 4-2) missed their first four shots from 3-point range, but still bolted to a 16-0 lead in the opening quarter. Evansville (2-16, 0-7) finally broke its scoring drought on a free throw with 3:47 left in the first, but that was the only point the Aces managed in the quarter as UNI built a 22-1 advantage.

The lead grew to 24-1 early in the second quarter before Evansville found a little offensive success, but UNI still led 37-17 at halftime and was never threatened in the second half.

Defensively, the Panthers held the Aces to 26.4 percent shooting overall and just 3 of 9 from 3-point range while forcing 18 turnovers against one of the MVC’s best ball-handling teams and blocking nine shots.

Individually, Abby Gerrits led a balanced UNI attack with 11 points, and Karli Rucker added 10. Heidi Hillyard grabbed eight rebounds and Nicole Kroeger dished out eight assists.

UNI moves on to play today at Indiana State. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.

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UNI 74, Evansville 46

NORTHERN IOWA (11-7, 4-2) — Rucker 4-7 0-0 10, Morgan 4-9 0-0 9, Howell 4-10 0-0 9, Kroeger 2-6 2-2 7, Hillyard 3-5 0-0 6, Gerrits 4-8 3-4 11, Iverson 2-3 5-6 9, Wolf 2-7 1-2 7, Hagen 1-4 3-4 5, Gunnels 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 26-60 15-20 74.

EVANSVILLE (2-16, 0-7) — Wallace 2-12 6-9 10, Gasper 0-5 5-6 5, Newman 0-5 1-2 1, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Casteel 0-1 0-0 0, Coffman 5-10 2-2 12, Tucker 4-7 0-0 11, Bishop 3-11 1-2 7, Caddy 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-53 15-21 46.

N. Iowa 22 15 24 13 — 74

Evansville 1 16 17 12 — 46

3-point goals — UNI 7-23 (Rucker 2-3, Morgan 1-4, Howell 1-4, Kroeger 1-4, Gerrits 0-1, Wolf 2-6, Gunnels 0-1), Evansville 3-9 (Wallace 0-2, Miller 0-1, Tucker 3-4, Bishop 0-1, Caddy 0-1). Rebounds — UNI 40 (Hillyard 8), Evansville 36 (Gasper 9). Assists — UNI 18 (Kroeger 8), Evansville 8 (Newman 3). Turnovers — UNI 8 (Morgan 2, Iverson 2, Gunnels 2), Evansville 18 (Newman 5). Blocks — UNI 9 (Howell 2, Kroeger 2, Hillyard 2, Hagen 2, Rucker 1), Evansville 1 (Newman 1). Steals — UNI 7 (Rucker 2, Kroeger 2), Evansville 2 (Wallace 2). Total fouls — UNI 17, Evansville 16. Fouled out — none.

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