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Redbirds fall in the quarterfinals to top-seeded Northern Iowa Panthers

Written by on March 4, 2022

Image courtesy of goredbirds.com

ST. LOUIS, MO – After taking down Indiana State in last night’s first-round matchup, the Redbirds looked to keep their Cinderella hopes alive against Northern Iowa. Interim head coach Brian Jones was up against his Alma mater, but could not lead the Redbirds to victory. ISU lost 78-65.

Abdou Ndiaye picked up two quick fouls in the first minute of the game, which forced him to sit on the bench.

“It hurt us, they did a good job on drawing those fouls,” Redbird head coach Brian Jones said. “For teams down there, they don’t attack the rim when he’s there, whether he’s on the ball or rotating out, he’s been good for us with that on the year.”

The Panthers went on a 7-0 run to take a 12-8 lead in the first six minutes of the game and started to catch fire from the field. ISU struggled to handle the ball, whopping up six turnovers before the halfway point of the first.

Ten minutes into the game, both teams were feeling it from behind the arc. The teams exchanged trey balls, hitting five straight from the field. UNI went on another 7-0 scoring run, as the Birds went scoreless over a four-minute stretch.

At the end of the first half, UNI held a 40-30 lead. Larry Bird player of the year, AJ Green, was active in the first frame for the Panthers. He had seven points, to go along with three rebounds and three assists. In the first 20 minutes, Antonio Reeves led the Redbirds in scoring with nine, connecting on three of seven shots from the field. 

“They were breaking hard, always having someone come after me on ball screens,” said Redbird guard Antonio Reeves. “Being able to pass it to the open man and teammates creating good shots for other teammates.”

The teams went back and forth at the start of the second half, with each squad scoring seven points in the first five minutes. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Panthers extended their lead to 13. UNI was attacking the paint with consistency, grabbing offensive rebounds, and executing on their second chance opportunities. The Panthers went up by as much as 16 points in the game.

On the offensive side, ISU had a tough time breaking down the Panther’s defense, and when they did, their shots were not falling. Foul trouble started to affect ISU, as the Panthers were in the bonus with 6 minutes left in the game. During the final minutes of the game, both teams struggled on offense. There was a 3-minute stretch where no one could get a shot to fall from the field, and UNI’s lead was too much for the Redbirds. 

The game was won in the paint, as UNI scored nearly half of their points in the post. The absence of Ndiaye, due to foul trouble, hurt the Redbird interior defense.

“We had a pretty sizeable advantage down low, it’s become a part of the way we play,” said Panthers head coach Ben Jacobson. “Guys were headed into the paint, and that brought in defenders for open shots for us.”