UNI women’s basketball return in second half for win over Indiana State

UNI women's basketball return in second half for win over Indiana State

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana – The UNI women’s basketball team pulled off their biggest comeback of the season, erasing a 16-point second-half deficit to sweep the series with Indiana State.

The Panthers’ 61-55 victory over the Sycamores cemented the third seed for UNI in the Hoops in the Heartland MVC tournament next weekend. main leader Karli Rucker took a big step forward for the Panthers as she posted 22 points for her second-biggest outing of the season. While the freshman ahead Grace Boffeli notched another double-double, his seventh of the season.

“It was basically a story of two halves,” said the head coach Tanya Warren. “We went from one of our worst quarters of the year to our best quarter of the year. Our second quarter was not great but our third quarter was great.

“I thought mixing up the defenses boosted our energy, created turnovers and got our offensive rhythm going. And maybe that’s something I need to do more often. But I liked the persistence and the tenacity that we showed in the second half. Karli Rucker was great in charge of the attack tonight.”

UNI would grab the tip and grab Rucker’s first basket of the game. It would be back and forth until the Sycamores made a six-point layup to grab their only lead change of the game. Cheeky Grace Boffeli finished the run with a layup to bring the pace of the game back to commercial shooting. A three-point Rucker would tie the game as the two teams back and forth with each other until Indiana State had another brief run. The Panthers would have the last two baskets of the quarter, entering second by one.

While it would be tight in the first, the Platanes would open the game wide in the second. Indiana State grabbed the first jump shot of the quarter but didn’t start a real run until halfway through. Rucker would score the only points of the second for UNI as she hit a trey, a jump shot and a free throw in the first half of the quarter. The Sycamores would finish the quarter on a 12-0 run in the final four minutes for the Panthers to enter halftime by 14.

Indiana State would add to their lead in the first 15 seconds of the half with a jump shot. But UNI would quickly find their attack as Boffeli fired a shot foul a minute later and made it two down the line. The Panthers scored two more baskets in quick succession before the Sycamores received another jump shot. UNI would respond importantly on a 20-0 run for the final six minutes of the third quarter. The race would be highlighted by Bre Gunnel’s three-point game to start, a Emerson Green three points down the middle and a solid lay-up for Boffeli to end the quarter.

The Panther run would continue early in the fourth as Green scored five points in the opening minute and 15 seconds. The Sycamores would stop the bleeding with a free throw 10 seconds into Green’s run five. The free throw would start a 13-0 run for Indiana State in six minutes. During Sycamore’s run, neither team scored for nearly three full minutes. But UNI would find a way to regain the upper hand after an Indiana State tie as Rucker made the biggest shot of the game, a three-point jump shot from the left side. A jump shot from the Sycamores would make it a one-point game, but a layup from Boffeli and two free throws from Rucker sealed the deal for the Panthers to win 61-55.

UNI’s shooting game would be average overall as they went 22-50 (44.0%) from the floor, 4-17 (23.5%) from behind the arc and 13-24 (54.2%) ) from the free throw line. The Panthers’ performance from the line was their second weakest of the season behind the road game against Drake. But UNI’s third quarter was one of their best shots with 10-16 (62.5%) from the floor, 1-4 (25%) from three-point range and 5-7 (71 .4%) of the charity band. The Panthers excelled in the rebound game, grabbing 41 boards to the Sycamores’ 34.

Individually, UNI had three double-digit players. Keep Karli Rucker led the team with 22 points while on guard Emerson Green would pick up 16. Before Grace Boffeli would have another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Panthers. Cheeky Bre Gunnels would also have double-digit rebounds for UNI as she caught 10 boards. Center Cynthia Wolf led the team in assists with four and had two steals.

The Panthers close out the regular season against Evansville and are looking for their first 20-win season since 2018-19. The announcement of the final game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Meeks Family Fieldhouse.