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UNI Holds Off ISU in MVC Tournament

Sycamores find out postseason fate Monday.
Indiana State used a 10-0 run in the second half to cut down the Northern Iowa advantage to as little as two points but the Panthers were able to answer the bell after each Sycamore rally and UNI walked away with a 71-60 victory in front of 1,204 fans at The Family Arena in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament.

Indiana State dropped to 18-12 while UNI improved to 16-15 while each team finished 10-8 in MVC play this season. UNI advances to the semifinals where they take on No. 1 seed Wichita State tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. (ET).

The Sycamores had four players go in double figures scoring, including Racheal Mahan who tallied 17 to go with her nine rebounds. Anna Munn posted 14 while Natasha Zurek scored 12 off the bench and Whitley scored 10.

Indiana State finished the game by hitting 22-of-69 shots from the field (31.9 percent), including 15-of-36 in the second half (41.7 percent). UNI was 12-of-23 from the field in the second half (52.2 percent), and hit just over 44 percent of their shots for the game.

The Panthers held a 42-32 edge on the glass, but the Sycamores used 13 offensive rebounds to score 15 second chance points. ISU also forced 15 UNI turnovers and converted them into 18 points. The Sycamore bench scored 16 points.

Northern Iowa took a 7-0 lead on the Sycamores at the beginning of the contest as it took ISU over six minutes to score their first points. Taylor Whitley had a jumper in the paint to trim the UNI lead down to 7-2 at the 13:49 mark.

A 3-pointer by UNI's Hannah Schonhardt with 7:51 remaining in the first half staked the Panthers to an 18-9 lead but Racheal Mahan converted a conventional 3-point play to cut it down to 18-12. Travecia Franklin's jumper was followed by a lay-up from Natasha Zurek at the 4:30 mark which completed a 7-0 run and put ISU within 18-16 of UNI.

The Panther lead ballooned to six points, but Whitley and Zurek scored consecutively to get the Sycamores withing 22-20 at the 2:19 mark. UNI scored the final eight points to take a 30-20 lead in the half. Whitley led ISU with six points at the break.

Mahan scored first for the Sycamores at the half to trim the Panther lead down to 30-22. Mahan would go on to score the first four points for ISU in the second half and Zurek added a jumper with 15:37 left in the game to trim the UNI advantage down to 34-26.

Jess McDowell hit a 3-pointer at the 9:34 mark to give UNI a 48-32 edge, but Zurek answered with a pair of free throws 24 seconds later to make it 48-34. The Sycamores would score 10 points in a row, capped off by a Johnson lay-up with 7:35 remaining which got ISU within 48-42.

After Brooke Brown hit a trey with 4:39 remaining, the Sycamores got back-to-back field goals from Mahan and Munn to get within 54-50 with 3:47 remaining. Jacqui Kalin countered with a 3-pointer at the 3:32 mark to stretch the lead out to 57-50.

The Sycamores would get as close as five points twice over the final three minutes, including a jumper by Munn at the 3:08 mark and then again with a pair of Mahan free throws with 2:38 remaining to make it 59-54.

Zurek scored for the Sycamores with less than a second remaining to make it 71-60 in favor of UNI.

Amber Kirschbaum and Jacqui Kalin led the Panthers in scoring with 23 points for Kirschbaum and 22 for Kalin.

Indiana State will now wait until Selection Monday when they will learn of their postseason tournament assignment. The Sycamores will receive a bid to play in either the WNIT or WBI. GoSycamores.com will announce the tournament assignment and will have ticket information on Monday evening.
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