Purple Aces deny James, Panthers an MVC victory

CEDAR FALLS – Anthony James had his way in the second half.

Colt Ryan had his hand on the final decision.

James rallied the Northern Iowa men’s basketball team back from a 14-point second half deficit, but his final 3-point attempt was off the mark in a 62-59 loss to Evansville in Missouri Valley Conference play Wednesday.

Ryan led the Purple Aces (10-6, 3-1) with a game-high 21 points and rebounded James’ final miss – a rare occasion for the Panther in the second half.

James connected on seven of his final 10 field-goal attempts, including the go-ahead jumper to give Northern Iowa a 57-55 lead with 53 seconds to play. Lewis Jones converted a 3-point play to reclaim the lead for the Purple Aces.

After Ryan made a pair from the line, James answered with a layup to bring UNI within one with 14 seconds left. Ned Cox drilled two more from the line to set the final score.

A layup from Troy Taylor gave Evansville its largest lead at 41-27 with 15:23 to play before James sparked the Panthers’ rally. Pacing UNI (8-8, 1-3) with 19 points, James tallied 13 in the second half to help the home team outscore the Purple Aces 30-14 during their run.

Taylor finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for Evansville, while Lewis Jones added nine points and Cox had eight. The Purple Aces shot 13-of-27 in the first half, including 5-of-7 from deep to claim a 32-25 lead at halftime.

Evansville shot just 39 percent (9-of-23) in the final 20 minutes, but made all 11 of their second half free throw attempts.

Seth Tuttle had nine points and eight rebounds for the Panthers who shot 52 percent (12-of-23) in the second half – a 20 percent boost from the opening stanza. Marc Sonnen had eight points for the Panthers.

Tuttle was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Player of the Week Tuesday. The sophomore forward averaged 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, while shooting 73.9 percent from the field over a two-game stretch against Indiana State and Illinois State.

UNI hosts Bradley Saturday at 1 p.m.