Sixth straight win lifts UNI into three-way tie

CEDAR FALLS – On the strength of its sixth straight win, the Northern Iowa women’s basketball team has moved into a three-way tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference.

Jen Keitel tallied game-highs of 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the Panthers to an 89-70 pummeling of Illinois State on Thursday night at the McLeod Center.

Madison Weekly contributed 16 points and five assists, Brittni Donaldson scored 13 points, while Stephanie Davison tallied all of her 12 points in the second half as Northern Iowa (17-11, 13-4) joined Wichita State and Indiana State in a logjam at the front of the MVC standings.

Illinois State (9-18, 8-9) attempted 10 more field goals and three more free throws than the host Panthers, but the Redbirds shot a dismal 34.3 percent from the field. ISU outrebounded UNI 39-36, including 18 offensive boards, but only converted 12 second-chance points.

The Redbirds have alternated losses with wins over their last 11 games, with UNI’s 89 the most points they’ve allowed this season. It’s also the most points the Panthers have scored in a regulation contest this winter.

Keitel shot 10-for-13 from the field as the standout performer in a game in which Northern Iowa shot 54.4 (31-for-57) from the floor.

Katy Winge led Illinois State with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Chloe Nelson finished with 15 points.

The Panthers host Indiana State on Saturday at 2 p.m., while Wichita State hosts Missouri State on Sunday in the final MVC regular-season game.