Ellie Howell scored a season-high 18 points during a Friday home win, but on Sunday, Howell spent most of the fourth quarter in the training room with an injury as the Panther’s lost at the McLeod Center.
Strong defense was key to a 65-53 weekend-opening win over Southern Illinois. UNI held SIU to just six points in the first quarter and 23 in the first half Friday.
The Salukis trailed for most of the night but were within four points early in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back layups from Howell sparked an 8-0 run to put the Panthers back ahead by a more comfortable margin.
Karli Rucker (11) and Mikaela Morgan (12) also scored in double digits. Howell was 6-11 from the field and 2-3 from the three-point line. Her previous season-best was 15 points.
Sunday against Missouri State, Howell left the floor with six minutes remaining and did not return. By that point, the Missouri State Bears had already recovered from a halftime deficit and went on to claim a 63-58 win.
Free throws were a key factor in the rally. The Bears made 23 of 29 tries from the line during the contest; UNI was awarded just one foul shot during the entire afternoon, none in the second half.
The Bears built an eight-point lead with 6:20 to play before UNI went on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to 59-56.
MSU iced the game with free throws down the stretch.
Rucker led the Panthers with 11 points on 5-10 shooting. She also had six assists. Cynthia Wolf tallied seven points and a game-high seven rebounds. Howell had seven points before leaving the game.
Missouri State remained unbeaten in the Valley with a 9-0 mark.
Next, the Panthers travel to face Loyola on Friday. UNI defeated the Ramblers 64-52 in January.