Saluki comeback falls short against Northern Iowa

By Brandyn Wilcoxen, Staff Reporter

The Salukis (9-7, 2-2 in MVC) returned to Banterra Center for the first time since December, but rang in the new year with their first home loss of the season, a 69-68 thriller against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers (9-7, 5-1 in MVC).

SIU was led in scoring by Marcus Domask with 23 points, followed by Lance Jones with 20, and Ben Coupet Jr. with 12. Dalton Banks had five points, Steven Verplancken Jr. and Troy D’Amico added three each, and Kyler Filewich rounded out the scoring with two.

While the game was tightly-contested for the most part, UNI held a lead for 34 total minutes, and led by as much as 12 at one point in the second half.

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The Salukis began the night cold, missing their first four shots and only getting their first points nearly five minutes into the game. However, they held up well defensively, as the Panthers also struggled to get going. SIU only spent 29 seconds with the lead in the first half, but didn’t allow a Panther lead larger than 4 points for most of the half.

After a Coupet three-pointer tied the game at 25 with 6:20 remaining in the half, the Salukis went ice cold from the field, allowing Northern Iowa to ride an 11-1 run into halftime.

The second half went more the Salukis’ way; Jones and Domask tag-teamed on nine-point run towards the beginning of the half to bring the deficit within three. SIU went blow-for-blow with UNI for most of the half after that, never trailing by more than eight following the run.

As a team, SIU shot 13-26 from the field in the second half, and held Northern Iowa to just 33% shooting. The Salukis particularly shined from three-point range, shooting 41% to UNI’s 18%.

A highlight of the night saw Domask nail a three-pointer to tie the game at 55 with 5:52 remaining, followed by Jones doing the same a minute later to take the lead for the first time since it was 20-18 in the first half.

However, UNI’s Noah Carter was able to orchestrate a 6-1 run to retake and maintain a Panther lead in the closing minutes. AJ Green iced the game at the charity stripe, adding to his 11-12 at the line with five free throws in the final 20 seconds. These free throws proved key, as Jones banked a buzzer-beating half-court heave to bring the final score within 1.

The Salukis will return to the Banterra Center on Monday, hosting Drake (12-5, 3-1 in MVC) followed by Indiana State (8-8, 1-3 in MVC) on Wednesday.

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Staff reporter Brandyn Wilcoxen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Brandyn_2020

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