The UNI Panthers scored their 20th victory of the season Monday night beating Rider 84-50 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in Cedar Falls. Northern Iowa scored the game’s first 15 points and led by as many as 39 late in game.
The Panthers held Rider to just 32% shooting. UNI coach Ben Jacobson was happy to see his team playing solid defense. “Our energy level was really good and that helped us defensively,” Jacobson said. “Obviously, with the time off we had some opportunity to work on some things in practice. But those things you work on in practice don’t always carry over to the game, so that’s a real credit to the guys.”
Just over 3,300 fans attended the game during spring break week. Jacobson says the players fed off the better-than-expected home crowd. “The thing I liked most was our energy level and a good part of that came from the crowd in here,” Jacobson said.
Anthony James led UNI in scoring with 15 points. Kwadzo Ahelegbe and Johnny Moran each added 14. The Panthers were awarded a bye into the quarterfinal round of the CIT.
While some programs use a lower-tier tournament like the CIT to build experience, Jacobson says the Panthers are playing to win a championship. “We want to put together a game plan to win it,” Jacobson said. “We spent this week preparing for this game with Rider, but at the same time, we worked on some things – which would include depth – to get ready to try and play all the way through this thing.”
UNI will host a “yet to be determined” opponent at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls next Monday at 7 p.m.