Guard Justin Bocot had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments of the second half Saturday in his last game at the SIU Arena.
But he couldn’t connect on a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, and Northern Iowa pulled away for the victory.
“I probably should have went to the hole. We had a lot of time on the clock, so it was a misjudgment on my part,” Bocot said. “I shouldn’t have even took the three in the first place. I should’ve went to the hole; try to lengthen out the game a little bit longer.”
A free throw from Johnny Moran, senior guard for Northern Iowa (19-12, 9-9 Missouri Valley Conference), made the score 65-61 with six seconds left, and the Salukis (8-22, 5-13 MVC) turned the ball over before they could attempt a shot on their last possession.
Coach Chris Lowery said there were several opportunities to win the game before Bocot’s missed 3-pointer with 11 seconds left such as when the Salukis went on a 14-1 run that gave them the 55-52 lead with 3 minutes and 28 seconds left.
“We did a lot of things right. The disappointing thing is our seniors didn’t get the chance to go out the right way,” Lowery said. “They gave us an opportunity to win the game.”
Senior forward Mamadou Seck had a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds, but he fouled out with 37 seconds left when UNI had a 61-60 lead.
“I think I should be more careful and think about how many fouls I had,” Seck said. “That was stupid on my part, because I fouled first and then figured out I had four fouls.”
Lowery said Seck listened in the huddle when the coaching staff said to intentionally foul, but he just had the unfortunate luck to be the only one near UNI senior guard Anthony James when he rebounded a missed free throw from Bocot.
James, Northern Iowa’s leading scorer, finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Saturday was the final day of the regular season in Valley play, and five teams finished in a tie for third with a 9-9 record (UNI, Illinois State, Drake, Missouri State, and Evansville). Because Northern Iowa finished with 19-12 overall record, they took the third seed in the MVC tournament next week.
SIU was already locked into the ninth seed in the MVC tournament and will face Indiana State at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.