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Maahs' career game leads UNI to overtime win
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Maahs' career game leads UNI to overtime win

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megan maahs 2019

Megan Maahs

CEDAR FALLS — Megan Maahs has encountered plenty of adversity the past two basketball seasons at the University of Northern Iowa. She worked her way back from an ACL injury that forced her to redshirt last season, only to miss four league games last month following a contact knee injury at Drake.

Patience, persistence and the will to win allowed Maahs to savor the imprint she made on UNI’s 71-66 overtime victory over Southern Illinois Sunday afternoon inside the McLeod Center. The 6-foot-1 forward finished with a career-high 23 points bolstered by a 13-for-14 effort from the free throw line to go with a season-high 12 rebounds.

“I’m extremely happy and proud for Megan,” UNI coach Tanya Warren said. “I think Megan’s biggest thing coming into this game was I really felt that she felt she had to get everything back in one game. Basketball is a game of rhythm.

“When you’ve been out for as long as she’s been out, it’s going to take time. My message to her is to stay true to the journey. You’ve put in the work. It will come. … She was able to reap some of those benefits today.”

“It was tough,” Maahs added. “Like Coach Warren said, and she tells me every day, ‘You have to stay true to the process.’ Just working on that is something that I continue to focus on.”

It took the grit and drive from Maahs and her fellow frontcourt teammate Bre Gunnels for UNI (14-8, 6-5 Missouri Valley) to overcome its second-highest turnover number of the season (23) and a 38.8% shooting clip from the field. UNI’s forward tandem combined to draw 13 fouls and made 22 of 24 free throws as the Panthers finished 29-for-33 from the line.

“We talked a lot about getting to the free throw line and we have encouraged that,” Warren said. “For our 4 and our 5 to get there 24 times, that is a huge shot in the arm for us because it takes a little bit of pressure off our half-court offense. That means we were being aggressive inside-out.”

Warren shuffled 12 players onto the court as she searched for an offensive spark during a rugged first quarter that finished with UNI leading, 10-9. Gunnels – who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds – then ignited the Panthers with their first eight points of the second quarter.

“We need that from Bre every game because Bre is capable of doing that,” Warren said. “When she’s urgent offensively and defensively, she’s a nightmare match-up because of her length and ability to put the basketball on the floor, and she’s shooting the 3 pretty well.”

UNI led for just 30% of this evenly-matched game. The Salukis (13-9, 5-6) made six of their first 11 3-point attempts and took their largest lead at 48-40.

The Panthers remained composed, responding with a 9-2 fourth-quarter run that tied the score at 56 on a transition layup off a pass from Karli Rucker to Abby Gerrits.

Trailing by one in the final minute of regulation, Rucker missed a go-ahead layup opportunity and Maahs missed off an offensive rebound. Maahs later tied the score by making one of two free throws after she was fouled on a defensive rebound with 16.2 seconds left. Southern Illinois’ final look in the fourth quarter was a Kristen Nelson miss off the drive and the game continued.

UNI’s defense came up with consistent stops and Maahs scored the Panthers’ first six points of the overtime period to give her team a 66-61 lead. Southern Illinois took advantage of a series of late turnovers and tied the score at 66 with 59 seconds left on a layup by Makenzie Silvey.

Rucker drew a foul on the ensuing possession that pushed UNI’s lead back to two. Then the Panthers dodged a series of bullets as Southern Illinois missed seven consecutive shots following a barrage of offensive rebounds from 27 to nine seconds remaining.

Rucker eventually came up with a defensive rebound and hit a free throw that put UNI up three. Southern Illinois’ final shot missed and Maahs added two more points from the line to set the final score.

“We came together when it got tough and that’s what pushed us through,” Rucker said.

Maahs’ career game included 15 points through the fourth quarter and overtime periods combined.

“I was really determined,” Maahs said. “I know the five people on the floor and our bench, we were all determined. We were all bought in. We knew what it was going to take to finish the game off. … It’s pretty fun when you win in overtime at home.”

CONTRIBUTING TOWARDS A CAUSE: Warren and Southern Illinois coach Cindy Stein each made donations of $275 to the Waterloo-based Beyond Pink TEAM after the two teams combined to make 11 3-pointers. The organization supports breast cancer prevention, education, support and advocacy for comprehensive, quality care for those in the Cedar Valley and surrounding communities.

“Cindy and I are really good friends,” Warren said. “She’s one of my mentors. … Just for her to be willing to do that speaks volumes about our friendship and I’m extremely appreciative.”

UNI 71, Southern Ill. 66

South. Ill. Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Brockmeyer 31 3-9 205 11 1 4 8

Martin 19 5-9 0-0 3 1 5 10

Patrick 35 4-13 2-4 4 2 4 13

Silvey 33 6-12 2-4 1 2 3 16

Nelson 39 1-11 0-0 1 6 0 2

Walker 17 1-6 1-2 6 0 4 3

Hartman 5 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0

Pudlowski 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

McCallister 20 3-7 2-2 2 1 2 10

Keita 18 1-3 0-0 5 3 1 2

Link 7 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 2

Team 3

Totals 225 24-71 11-19 38 16 24 66

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

Gunnels 33 2-4 9-10 9 2 2 14

Maahs 33 5-11 13-14 12 1 1 23

Rucker 38 3-9 6-8 3 1 0 13

Kroeger 31 0-4 0-0 2 1 3 0

Gerrits 16 1-5 0-0 2 2 2 2

Wolf 13 2-2 0-0 3 0 4 4

Cavey 12 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0

Barney 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Simon-Ressler 10 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 2

Finley 3-8 1-1 3 1 3 8

Morgan 4 0-1 0-0 1 1 0 0

Hillyard 9 2-2 0-0 2 0 0 5

Team 7

Totals 200 19-49 29-33 45 9 16 71

S. Illinois 9 21 20 10 666

N. Iowa 10 18 19 13 1171

3-point goals – SIU 7-19 (Patrick 3-6, Silvey 2-4, Nelson 0-3, McCallister 2-6). UNI 4-13 (Gunnels 1-2, Maahs 0-1, Rucker 1-1, Kroeger 0-3, Simon-Ressler 0-1, Finley 1-3, Morgan 0-1, Hillyard 1-1). Blocks – SIU 5 (Martin 2), UNI 6 (Maahs, Wolf 2). Turnovers – SIU 13 (three at 3), UNI 23 (Rucker 6). Steals – SIU 14 (Patrick 4), UNI 4 (Wolf 2).

Officials – Morning, Hopson, Fruehling. Att. – 1,508.

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