Northern Iowa’s perimeter defense stifled the Salukis en route to a 58-45 victory Wednesday night.
That defense held SIU (8-11, 1-7) to less than 50 points for the first time this season.
Coach Barry Hinson said UNI’s defense was effective against smaller unit.
“The thing they do defensively is they make you shoot jump shots,” he said. “They’re absolutely the best. They play man-zone and they back off, make you hit jump shots, and when you don’t have a guy who can score inside, it makes you a jump-shooting team.”
Sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels led the team’s scorers with 11 points, and he was the only Saluki to score more than 10 points against the Panthers (11-9, 4-4). Daniels played for 22 minutes, the fewest of any SIU starter, and grabbed one rebound.
“Dantiel has to play a lot better for us, and I think he can,” Hinson said. “When you’re that size and you get one rebound, I think that speaks volumes with what’s going on with energy and effort. Offensively, it’s not an issue, but he’s got to come out of a game with more than one rebound.”
The lack of Saluki post scoring allowed the Panthers to press SIU into shooting an excess of 3-pointers—The Salukis made two of nine attempts from behind the arc. Freshman guards Anthony Beane Jr., and Jalen Pendleton went a combine 0-2 from 3-point.
Senior guard Kendal Brown-Surles scored 3 points after the game was already out of reach with just over a minute. That was the only baskey the senior guard made, but he tied for the team’s lead in steals (2) and assists (2).
UNI led by as many as 19 points in the game, and SIU failed to come within 12 points of Northern Iowa at any point in the contest. The Salukis shot a season-low 41 field goal attempts, but Hinson said that was part of his game plan.
“The pace was exactly what we wanted,” he said. “The last two teams to come in here got beat 31 and 13. We knew that we would have to literally grind it a little bit. Mr. (Henry) Iba would have been proud of me tonight.”
Panthers guard Marc Sonnen maintained a hot hand through the game as he scored six of UNI’s 10 points to open the second half. Sonnen connected on five of his eight long-ranged attempts, and he led all scorers with 15 points.
“He’s put in a ton of time for the past 18 months — a minimum 500 shots a day in the off-season,” UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said. “The confidence he’s playing with is a result of working hard.”
Senior guard Jeff Early struggled most of the night against UNI’s quick and speedy defense. Early scored 3 points on just one of five as he shot from the field. The senior guard notched the team’s third most rebounds (3), as the Salukis were outrebounded 29- 22.
Officials stopped play halfway through the second half to review game video of an incident involving Early and Panther forward Jake Koch. After deliberation, the referees decided to eject Early for committing a Flagrant 2 foul. Friday, the Missouri Valley Conference announced Early will receive a one-game suspension for his actions. Hinson said he didn’t see the foul, but he is aware of how these situations are usually handled.
“I think there were two culprits, but the second guy gets caught,” he said.
Demario Phipps-Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 536-3311 ext. 256.