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CEDAR FALLS — With some key veteran contributors sidelined, a pair of first-year players filled in nicely for the Northern Iowa women’s basketball team Sunday.

Mikaela Morgan scored 18 points, while freshmen Karli Rucker and Nicole Kroeger added 15 and 14, respectively, as UNI coasted to an 80-53 exhibition win over Sioux Falls.

The Panther offense hit a bit of a lull at the end of the first half, as a 15-point lead had been trimmed to six.

But Rucker quickly snatched the momentum back for her team, getting an open look and burying a shot from behind the arc just before the buzzer sounded.

“We moved the ball around as well as we could on offense,” Rucker said of the final possession. “We just kind of found the person that was open and made the extra pass.”

UNI then took immediate control of the second half, as Rucker and Morgan proceeded to hit triples on the first two possessions of the third quarter.

After a sluggish start, Morgan found her groove as the game went along. Expecting her to take a big leap this season, Panther coach Tanya Warren said Morgan is at her best when taking a more relaxed approach.

“When she allows the game to come to her, she’s pretty hard to guard,” Warren said. “I thought early, she rushed. Second, third and fourth quarter she did a nice job of letting the game come to her.”

Warren was also encouraged by the play of her freshmen.

Aside from her 15 points, Rucker added six rebounds, six assists and three steals.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a freshman at the point guard position. For her to step in and do what she did today says a lot about her,” Warren said. “The numbers that she put up are extremely encouraging.”

Kroeger also made a strong impact in her first live action, hitting 4 of 5 from behind the 3-point line for the Panthers, who hit 12 3s as a team.

UNI also had a strong day on the glass. Rose Simon-Ressler pulled down 10 boards and the Panthers held a 45-31 rebounding edge.

WARREN MUM ON INJURIES: Not everything went smoothly for the Panthers, who were without Ellie Howell, a preseason first-team all-conference selection, and redshirt senior Kennedy Kirkpatrick.

Warren didn’t provide information as to why the two were held out, and said she wouldn’t know specifics regarding their status until Monday.

“I have no idea when we’re going to get them back,” Warren said. “It’s a day-to-day process.”

UNI opens the regular season at home against IUPUI on Friday at 7 p.m.

UNI 80, Sioux Falls 53

Sioux Falls Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Thramer 21 1-6 4-4 3 0 3 6

Hummel 34 6-12 3-4 2 1 2 18

Huinker 33 4-6 0-2 7 2 3 8

Harris 21 2-9 4 4 2 2 3 8

Duffy 17 1-4 1-2 1 0 2 3

Sanders 17 2-5 0-0 5 1 1 5

Smitsdorff 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Bradley 4 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Mataloni 10 0-3 0 1 1 0

Szymanski 11 1-2 2-2 0 0 1 5

Dighton 11 0-3 0-0 0 0 1 0

Hodell 5 0-2 0-0 0 0 1 0

Volesky 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0

Saugstad 4 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Slater 0-3 0-0 3 0 3 0

Dagostino 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Team 7

Totals 200 17-56 14-18 31 7 21 53

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

Rucker 31 5-10 2-2 6 6 0 15

Morgan 24 6-15 3-6 2 1 2 18

Maahs 23 4-6 4-4 6 1 2 12

Simon-Ressler 28 2-7 2-2 10 2 1 7

Hillyard 21 1-4 0-0 5 2 3 2

Kroeger 22 4-6 2-2 2 2 1 14

Robson 5 0-0 0-0 2 0 1 0

Gunnels 14 1-1 0-0 3 0 1 2

Garrison-Nicker 5 0-1 0-0 0 1 2 0

Gerrits 12 1-3 0-0 1 2 2 3

Team 2

Totals 200 27-59 14-18 45 17 16 80

Sioux Falls 11 18 15 9 — 53

UNI 23 15 26 16 — 80

3-point goals—Sioux Falls 5-17 (Hummel 3-5, Sanders 1-2, Szymanski 1-2, Mataloni 0-3, Harris 0-2, Dighton 0-2, Slater 0-1) UNI 12-27 (Kroeger 4-5, Morgan 3-9, Rucker 3-5, Simon-Ressler 1-3, Gerrits 1-2, Hillyard 0-2, Maahs 0-1) Steals—Sioux Falls 13 (Thramer 4, Huinker 4, Harris 1, Hummel 1, Duffy 1, Szymanski 1, Sanders 1) UNI 10 (Rucker 3, Simon-Ressler 3, Hillyard 1, Maahs 1, Kroeger 1, Gunnels 1).

Officials—Quirk, Duffe, Fox.

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