UNI Drops Third in a Row Despite Second Half Comeback
Despite a second-half run to cut a 15-point lead down to two, Northern Iowa fell to the Grand Canyon in today's consolation match of the NABC Hall of Fame Classic, 69-67.
With the excitement and intensity that the second half brought, Coach Ben Jacobson and the Panthers felt the opposite over the first 20 minutes. Following the opening tip, UNI led by two for all of one minute and four seconds in the entirety of the game.
Then, unlike yesterday's hot start against the San Francisco Dons, UNI trailed by 17 at one point in the first half to Grand Canyon.
The Lopes took control with their height advantage and the Panthers couldn't grab a board, as GCU outrebounded UNI 24-11. Offensively, it appeared as though the previous day's loss rattled Northern Iowa too, as the Panthers shot just 12-37 from the field and 2-9 from deep.
"The game was really hard in the first half," Coach Jacobson said. "We weren't in position to guard, we didn't block out, and we didn't execute."
The Lopes took advantage of all the Panther mistakes too, shooting 15-35 from the field and 5-12 from three. The second-chance points came aplenty, where GCU outscored the purple and gold 19-0.
In the second half, the script flipped -- at least as much as it could.
With 14:10 remaining in the second half and a 15-point lead, it seemed as though the Lopes would run away with an easy victory. Coach Jake and company had other ideas.
The Panthers gradually took back momentum, moving the GCU lead down to seven with 8:22 left and keeping it within single digits for the remainder of the contest. No, UNI wasn't able to outrebound the bigger Lopes in the second half, but the effort on the glass increased significantly.
The rebounding discrepancy was minimized to just three in the final 20 minutes as Grand Canyon outrebounded the Panthers by just three, 20-17. Second chance points were significantly lessened as well, down from 19 to five.
"Our guys battled like crazy in that second half," Jacobson said. "This group has been good about (giving effort)."
That effort culminated in what became a nail-biter in the final three minutes. With 2:19 left, Bowen Born launched a three that put the game within two points, 63-61. A made hook shot and alley-oop by Grand Canyon elevated the lead back to six before Born nailed a straightaway three to bring it back within reaching distance at 66-63.
After a made free throw by GCU's Yvan Ouedraogo, Born stepped to the charity stripe and hit both free throws with 23 seconds remaining. The Panthers then trapped the following inbound pass, stole the ball, and Trey Campbell launched a three that would've given UNI its first lead since it was 2-0 with 18:37 left on the clock in the first half.
It clanked off back rim.
"I really like that on the steal," Jacobson said. "When you get that steal, just go score. He had a great look at it. ... When it left his hand it had great rotation on it and I thought 'He just made it. We're going to beat them.' ... I like the shot he took."
Following the miss, GCU recovered the rebound and made 1-2 free throws to extend the lead to 69-66.
Assistant coach Seth Tuttle barked out a call on the last possession, designing a three-point corner shot for Born. The Norwalk native was fouled with 0.3 seconds remaining before he released the shot. After making the first and a purposeful miss on the second free throw attempt, the ball was tipped by Tytan Anderson and the clock expired.
Born finished with 19 to lead all scorers. Anderson added his third straight double-double putting up 18 and 12 for the Panthers.
"I'm really proud of how these guys fought," Anderson said postgame. "The outcome wasn't good, but there are a lot of things to look at and be happy about."
"(We want) more determination to do the things we keep talking about," Coach Jacobson added. "We need the determination to block out, get rebounds, and to stay in the position to guard. ... The guys have a great feel for it and they're playing their tails off. I've got no complaints with how hard we're playing or the comradery, and we've got a really good talent level. Now we've got to get determined."
UNI heads home for its first NCAA Division I game at home this season, facing the Northern Illinois Huskies (1-4) on Saturday, November 26 at 1 PM.