#1 seed UNI (19-10) (78) vs. #8 seed Illinois State (13-20) (65)
First Half Highlights
Illinois State slowed its own first half effectiveness with six turnovers in the opening minutes of the contest but the Redbirds battled back with five different Redbird players connecting on three-point goals. UNI forged a 16-11 lead but ISU bounced back to knot the game at 16 on a trey by Antonio Reeves. From there, the Panthers went ahead to stay and broke from a 23-19 advantage and pulled into a double digit margin at 31-21 on two free throws by A.J. Green with 4:44 to play. ISU got back within seven at 35-28 before UNI gained its biggest margin at 12 at 40-28 and then settled for a 10-point margin at the break, 40-30. UNI shot 52 percent in the first half to 41 percent for ISU and UNI won the battle for points in the paint a 20-8 and had a slim 16-15 rebound edge. Noah Carter led UNI with 10 points in the half and Reeves had 9 for ISU.
Second Half Highlights
UNI opened the second half with a trey from A.J. Green as UNI got its biggest lead at 43-30. The teams swapped points, including a basket by Austin Phyfe at the 16-minute mark that made it 49-37 and gave Phyfe 913 career points, one more than his dad Steve Phyfe had while playing for UNI. ILSU saw UNI turn its first 11 turnovers into 12 Panther points. Nate Heise scored a trey with 8:18 remaining as UNI got its first 16-point edge at 61-45. Included in that run was Green’s 266th career three-point goal, closing him with 13 of UNI school record. UNI kept its margin safely in double digits and was ahead 70-54 around the three-minute mark when Liam McChesney hit two free throws and then nailed a trey to close the Redbirds back within 11 at 70-59. That would be as close as Illinois State would get as McChesney cashed another trey to get the Redbirds within 76-65 before UNI scored again for its final margin. Noah Carter had 16 points and 5 rebounds for UNI while Antonio Reeves had 20 points and 5 boards for Illinois State. The 13-point win was UNI’s first since 2015 in Valley Tournament play by double digits, after a string of six wins in that span by fewer than 10 points.