The UNI Panthers further solidified themselves as the team to beat in the Missouri Vallety Conference race last night with a 59-55 win over Illinois State in the McLeod Center.

It was the Panther’s ninth straight win and coach Ben Jacobsen credits their defensive effort against the Illinois State combination of Osiris Eldridge and Champ Oguchi. The duo was limited to a total of 15 points.

Jacobsen says their communication was very good against a team that sets a lot of ball screens. Jacobsen says the Panthers had to communicate on defense to be able to cover all the screens and he says down the stretch of the game it paid off.

The Panthers are 9-1 in the Valley and the nine game winning streak is their longest in 45 years. Senior guard Travis Brown says it means a lot as the group has come together and it has been a fun ride and they look forward to keeping it going. Brown says the Panthers need to remain focused on what needs to be accomplished.

Brown says the streak doesn’t mean anything if they don’t finish it and win the conference. Brown says he’ll be happy and satisfied once they get the title. The Panthers visit the last team that beat them when they play Indiana State on Saturday.