The UNI Panthers put together a gem of a second half on Friday night and likely sealed a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers opened the second half by outscoring Missouri State 16-2 to start the second half of play and they rolled to a 57-42 win in the quarterfinal round of the Valley Tournament in St. Louis. Grant Stout had 16-points and ten rebounds, point guard Brooks McKoween added 13 as UNI bounced back from a slump at the end of the regular season.
Senior guard Ben Jacobsen finished with 12-points but his biggest contribution came at the defensive end where he help Missouri State standout Blake Ahern to two points. Jacobsen says he is confident the Panthers are on no matter what happen s the rest of the weekend.
McDermott says he put on his NCAA Tournament ring this week to try and boost the players confidence. He says it never wears it, but wore it to practice Monday to remind the team how good they are. McDermott says teams go through some down stretches and he wanted to remind the team that “We’re very capable still.”
UNI plays Southern Illinois in the second of two semifinals this afternoon. The other matches Bradley and Wichita State.