Panthers hope to build on buzzer-beating momentum
The Northern Iowa women’s basketball team is hoping a last-second game-winning shot from former AGWSR prep Jess McDowell can keep the momentum in the Panthers’ favor.
UNI will need all the help it can get when it travels to Muncie, Ind., today to take on the Ball State Cardinals. Sunday’s tip off in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament is 1 p.m. Central.
McDowell’s game-winning layup on Friday came with 2 seconds to go on the clock. That was her 11th point of the game as the Panthers knocked off Marquette 61-59 to claim their first-ever WNIT victory.
The Cardinals (16-15) are playing in the second round of the WNIT for the first time since 2003 and they also upset a power 6 conference school when they traveled to Minnesota and handed the Gophers a 54-51 loss.
Ball State’s defense was the difference as it all-Big Ten guard Rachel Bannam to just 12 points. Just seven Ball State players saw time in the game, and Brandy Woody led the way with 19 points. Brittany Carter added 11 to help the Cardinals win without a big game from their best player – Nathalie Fontaine.
Fontaine was sixth in the Mid-American Conference in scoring at 13.1 points per game but was held to just four in Friday’s win. She also leads the team in rebounding at 6.4 per game. Woody is next at 11.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg.
The Panthers (17-16) will look for another stellar game from senior superstar Jacqui Kalin, who is the only player in Northern Iowa history to score more than 2,000 career points. She also is a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and has average an MVC-best 19.7 ppg and also pulls down five rpg and dishes out four apg.
Kalin will be Ball State’s primary concern on the defensive end as the next best Panther – Amber Kirschbaum – averages just more than eight points per game. Kirschbaum also leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game average and has pulled down at least 10 boards in three straight games.
Ball State finished third in the East Division of MAC with a 12-4 record. Northern Iowa is 8-6 on the road this year and is 9-11 all-time against teams from the MAC but has never faced Ball State.
The Panthers and Cardinals have three common opponents. They both have wins over Evansville, but Ball State beat Illinois State and Minnesota, teams which UNI lost to.
Today’s game will be played at John E. Worthen Arena. The game will not be televised but live stats can be found at ballstatesports.com.