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CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa’s 24-hour rule is in effect.

That’s how much time the Panthers are giving themselves to move on from Saturday’s painful, 54-53 Missouri Valley Conference loss to Illinois State at the McLeod Center.

UNI’s offense sputtered throughout the game and went into a funk to begin the fourth quarter after leading 41-35 after 30 minutes.

Illinois State, meanwhile, heated up in the final stanza. The Redbirds went on a 13-2 run to take the lead, then got a huge turnover with three seconds left to ice the game.

“We cannot come out and let something like that happen here,” Panther senior forward Taylor Hagen said. “To let that happen at home at the end of the game just can’t happen. We have to play hard on every possession and do those good things down the stretch and we did not today.

“We had way too many turnovers in a row, five I believe, and we lost our focus on the ball. We will take 24 hours to hash this one out and then get ready for the tournament next week.”

Hagen, playing the final home game of her career, took matters into her own hands in the second half as she muscled her way through the paint for key buckets to keep the Panthers close.

Her steal and lay-up gave UNI a 27-24 halftime edge, and she struck again early in the third after Illinois State surged ahead with a jumper for a 29-27 lead.

Karli Rucker gave the Panthers another quick shot of momentum with a lay-up as the third-quarter buzzer sounded for a 41-35 lead, but the momentum didn’t return to the floor with UNI for the final 10 minutes.

“It became a real physical game and we had a chance at the end,” said Hagen, who finished with 11 points. “We called a timeout right before the play, but they (Redbirds) just came down hard underneath at the end and we didn’t get our shot off. They played us tough all game and it really was physical on both sides.

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“We have a lot of young girls on this team that want to win and good senior leadership. We will bounce back from this.”

UNI head coach Tanya Warren was not available following the game.

The Panthers will take on sixth-seeded Southern Illinois Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the MVC tournament quarterfinals in Moline, Ill.

Illinois St. 54, UNI 53

ILLINOIS ST. (18-11, 11-7) — TeTe Maggett 5 3-4 15, Katrina Beck 1 4-4 6, Viria Livingston 2 2-5 6, Kayel Newland 0 0-0 0, Simone Goods 8 2-2 18, Lexi Wallen 1 2-2 4, Megan Talbot 1 0-0 2, Paige Saylor 1 0-0 3, Lexy Koudelka 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 13-17 54.

NORTHERN IOWA (19-11, 12-6) — Karli Rucker 2 2-2 6, Ellie Howell 1 0-0 2, Mikaela Morgan 1 0-0 3, Heidi Hillyard 2 1-2 7, Bre Gunnels 1 0-0 2, Cynthia Wolf 2 0-0 4, Taylor Hagen 5 1-2 11, Alyssa Iverson 0 0-0 0, Rose Simon-Ressler 1 0-0 2, Abby Gerrits 1 0-0 3, Marissa Robson 0 0-0 0, Nicole Kroeger 5 0-0 13. Totals 21 4-6 53.

Illinois St. 14 10 11 19 — 54

N. Iowa 18 9 14 12 — 53

3-point goals — Illinois St. 3 (Maggett 2, Saylor), UNI 7 (Kroeger 3, Hillyard 2, Gerrits, Morgan). Rebounds — Illinois St. 25 (Goods 10), UNI 30 (Gunnels 6). Assists — Illinois St. 2 (Goods 2), UNI 10 (Rucker 3). Total fouls — Illinois St. 15, UNI 17. Fouled out — Saylor. Officials — Todd Moistner, Kayla Maxey and Chris Cooper. Att — 1,596.

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