CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The Panthers wouldn’t be able to dig themselves out of a 20-point first-half hole in their 85-66 loss to the No. 20 Creighton Bluejays.
UNI had two players in double digits on Sunday afternoon while also having their best free-throw shooting percentage of the young season. Freshman forward Ryley Goebel set multiple career shooting highs against the Bluejays in her young career as a Panther. But shooting struggles in the first half kept the Panthers from making it any closer than a 16-point deficit in the second half.
“I’ll be honest, I was extremely disappointed in the first half,” said Head Coach Tanya Warren. “I thought we were in Cancun mode instead of Creighton mode. And Creighton is a very good team, they’re well-coached, and they run their offense extremely well. They have five kids on the floor that can shoot it and we weren’t ‘t locked in either side of the basketball. So I was extremely disappointed with our energy, our effort, and our focus the first half. … I thought the second half we played with a little bit more fight, but I mean the games over,”.
UNI took their only lead of the game in the first two minutes. A leadoff three-pointer from center Cynthia Wolf put the Panthers up by one after just a minute of play. UNI would have a one-point lead once more than a minute and a half later from a jump shot by a guard Emerson Green. But a quick four-point run by the Bluejays gave Creighton the lead that they held onto for the rest of the game.
The Bluejays would put together several small runs throughout the first quarter that the Panthers were only able to counter with single shots. By the end of 10 minutes, Creighton had a 13-point lead that would only grow in the second. UNI would have a slightly better quarter in the second, going from 28.6% shooting to 37.5% shooting. But a five-point run in the middle of the quarter gave the Bluejays a 20+ lead.
After a sluggish first half, the Panthers rebounded in the second. UNI had their best quarter of the game in the third, outscoring Creighton 23 to 20 while shooting 52.9% from the floor. The Panthers were able to start trading shots with the Bluejays through the first two minutes before going on a four-point run. The game returned to a back-and-forth pace for most of the half.
But UNI went on its best run of the day Midway through the fourth. The six-point run was highlighted by two back-to-back and-1 opportunities for the freshman Riley Wright and Ryley Goebel. But a three-pointer from Creighton in the final two minutes would end the game, handing the Panthers their second straight loss.
Point guard Maya McDermott and Goebel led UNI in scoring with 14 points each. Goebel also led the Panthers on defense with eight rebounds, two steals, and a block.
UNI grabs a flight to play in the Cancun Challenge in Mexico. While at the Thanksgiving tournament the Panthers will play two teams, the Tulane Green Wave on Thanksgiving day and the Vanderbilt Commodores on Friday. Both games will be streamed by FloHoops at 10 pm and 7:30 pm CT respectively.