Second Half Rally Not Enough
Men's basketball sees Northern Iowa shoot 62 percent in first half to build a lead the Lions couldn't overcome in Paradise Jam opener.
Nov. 22, 2013
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands -- The first half was a shooting clinic for Northern Iowa, hitting 62 percent from the field on 18 made field goals, including a 71 percent clip from three. With it, they built a 23-point first half lead. From there, they would hit just seven field goals the rest of the way as LMU's press tightened to stage a comeback.
In the end, it was too much for the Lions, suffering their first setback of the young season, 90-81, in the opening game of the 2013 Ezybonds Virgin Islands Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Friday afternoon.
Senior Anthony Ireland scored 24 points to lead all scorers. Freshman Evan Payne chipped in 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting and fellow freshman Gabe Levin had his second straight double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Payne's point total is tied for 18th all-time for an LMU freshman, while Levin's rebound total is tied with Kenny Hotopp (at San Diego, Feb. 16, 1995) as the second most by a freshman in program history.
Three Panthers scored more than 20 points, led by Deon Mitchell's 23 points and Matt Bohannon's 22, hitting 5-for-7 three-pointers.
"We didn't come out with the defensive energy we needed to at the start, and we didn't close out on their shooters the way we talked about pregame," said Head Coach Max Good. "I was proud of our team's response in the second half and they left everything out there to give us a shot. But we need to come out with that intensity on defense for all 40 minutes. We learned a hard lesson today against a very good team."
After 18 field goals in the first half, LMU (4-1) held the Panthers to just five for the next 18 minutes as they cut the UNI (2-2) to five, 81-76, with three minutes to play. However, the Panthers took advantage of a 28-19 edge in the fouls and hit 21 of their 28 free throws in the second half to secure the win.
UNI hit 18-for-29 (62.1 percent) from the field, 10-for-14 (71.1 percent) from three to build the 23-point lead with 3:14 to play in the first half. However, the Lions recovered and held UNI to just 7-for-20 from the field in the second half (35 percent), hitting just 2-for-7 from three. They finished 25-for-49 (51 percent) from the floor, 12-for-21 from the three (57.1 percent) and 28-for-39 from the charity stripe (71.8 percent).
The Lions finished 30-for-72 from the field, attempting 40 shots in the second half to fight back. LMU hit 15-for-21 from the free throw line and finished with a 38-33 edge on the glass as second chance points down the stretch helped them fight back.
LMU trailed 59-45 after UNI's first field goal of the half with 14:35 to play. LMU would post a 10-2 run in just under four minutes to cut the lead to six, 61-55, on an offensive rebound tip-in by Levin, who had 10 of his 13 rebounds in the second half. The Panthers worked the lead back to 15, 79-64, with 4:48 to play on yet another pair of free throws.
This time it was a 12-2 run capped by a pair of Payne free throws with 3:00 left to cut the lead to 81-76. That would be as close as it would get as the Lions hit just two field goals the final three minutes.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Lions as they face Marist in the first game of the consolation semifinals of the Paradise Jam on Saturday at 11:30 am (PT). The game can be heard on KXLU 88.9 FM and seen on ParadiseJam.com.