Northern Iowa Wins MVC Opener

    
December 28th, 2006

Cedar Falls, Iowa – University of Northern Iowa frontline players Grant Stout (New Sharon, Iowa) and Eric Coleman (Maplewood, Minn.) each had double-doubles to lead the Panthers to a 76-65 win over Bradley Wednesday night at the McLeod Center. With the win, UNI improves to 10-2 overall, 1-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while Bradley falls to 9-4, 0-1.

Stout had 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while Coleman added 16 points and 14 boards. The duo’s combined 29 rebounds were one more than Bradley’s entire team total (28), as UNI won the battle of the boards 44-28. Travis Brown (Richfield, Minn.) had 12 points and Brooks McKowen (Fairbank, Iowa) had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds. The Panthers also got eight points off the bench from sharpshooter Adam Viet (Ackley, Iowa)

UNI jumped out of the gate quickly, as Jared Josten (Webster City, Iowa), Kwadzo Ahelegbe (Oakdale, Minn.) and Brown each hit three-pointers in the game’s first five minutes to give the Panthers a 15-5 lead. UNI stayed hot from the field the entire first half, connecting on 57 percent of its shots, including 5-of-9 from three-point range. The Panthers built their lead to as many as 18 (41-23) late in the first half, but a late Bradley surge – including a Will Franklin three-pointer as the half wound down – pulled BU within 42-28 at the break.

UNI held a 52-39 advantage with 14:29 left when Bradley started to climb back in the game. Jeremy Crouch and Daniel Ruffin hit back-to-back three-pointers, and Matt Salley hit a free throw, to pull the Braves within 52-46. The Panthers turned it over four straight possessions after that, but Bradley managed only one free throw during that stretch to make the score 52-47.

On the ensuing possession, Viet missed a three-pointer from the corner, but was able to grab the rebound and then make a three to give the Panthers a 55-47 edge. That ended four minute scoreless stretch for the Panthers.

The Braves made several runs at the Panthers after that, but each time, UNI was able to respond. A Franklin three from the top of the key pulled Bradley within 59-55 with 6:09 left, but McKowen hit two free throws and Coleman had a layup to push the Panthers lead back to 63-55.

Franklin followed with another trey to make the score 63-58 with 4:20 left, and Bradley got the ball back after a UNI turnover with a chance to get even closer. But Coleman blocked Matt Salley’s shot, scored on a put-back on the other end, and then hit a pair of foul shots to push the Panthers back up, 67-58.

Ruffin was fouled attempting a three on the ensuing possession and made all three free throws to make it 67-61. McKowen then missed a three with a little over one minute remaining, but Stout grabbed the board and put it back for a 69-61 lead. After a Bradley, turnover, the Braves were force to foul, and UNI hit seven of eight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.