The Panthers trimmed a 22-point deficit to only seven with 4:22 minutes left to play, but the Bulldogs closed out the game on a 15-5 run to seal the 81-64 victory at home.
Sophomore Rose Simon-Ressler posted a career-high 19 points to lead all scorers on Friday night. Juniors Mikaela Morgan and Ellie Howell each scored in double figures, earning 11 and 10 points respectively. As a team, the Panthers were held to just 33.9% shooting, while the Bulldogs shot 55.1% for the game.
The Panthers made their first five shots from the field, but the Bulldogs were able to match their hot shooting and comeback to even the score at 13-13 midway through the first quarter. Drake would pull past UNI for a 24-17 lead after the end of the first period, thanks to 10 early points from Becca Hittner.
After a sluggish start by both teams to begin the second quarter, Drake went on an 11-1 run to extend its lead before halftime. The Panther scoring drought was stopped right before intermission however, after junior Ellie Howell knocked down a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 40-24 entering the locker room.
Despite trailing by more than 20 points at one point in the third quarter, the Panthers did not give up as UNI buried five 3-pointers to trim the deficit to only 16 points entering the fourth quarter.
The Panthers continued to chip away at the deficit in the fourth quarter via the 3-point shot, as UNI trimmed Drake’s lead to just 10 points with 7:07 remaining after Simon-Ressler’s shot found the bottom of the net. The sophomore found herself behind the arc once again later in the period and as Simon-Ressler sank her career-high fourth 3-pointer of the game to bring the deficit to only seven points with 4:49 left to play. The Bulldogs earned a 15-5 run to follow the Panthers’ surge of energy however, as Drake closed out the game to win, 81-64.
The Panthers continue their three-game road swing, with a pair of Valley games next weekend. UNI faces Bradley at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, before capping the weekend against Illinois State on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT.