Cedar Falls, Iowa – Nate Funk scored a game-high 24 points and Anthony Tolliver added 17 to lead Creighton to a 62-54 win over the University of Northern Iowa Friday night at the McLeod Center.
UNI was led by center Eric Coleman (Maplewood, Minn.) and point guard Brooks McKowen (Fairbank, Iowa), who each scored 13 points. Forward Grant Stout (New Sharon, Iowa) posted his sixth double-double of the season as he scored 10 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Creighton roared out of the gate, scoring the game’s first seven points, and opened a 20-4 lead with less than 10 minutes to go in the first half. The Panthers rallied over the next six minutes to pull within nine, 24-15, but went the final five minutes of the half without a basket, and Creighton extended its lead to 28-15 at intermission. UNI hit just 30 percent of its shots (6-for-20) in the opening 20 minutes and had eight turnovers, and its 15 points was the lowest total in a half this year.
But UNI came out of the locker room on fire, firing up the arena-record crowd of 6,877. Over the first two minutes of the second half, a McKowen layup, followed by three-pointers from Stout and Travis Brown (Richfield, Minn.) quickly cut the Bluejays edge to 28-23, forcing a Creighton timeout. After the Bluejays pulled back in front by eight, the Panthers got within four, 33-29, with 14:50 left on a Coleman basket.
Less than two minutes later, Creighton was again back up by eight, helped by three-pointers from Funk and Tolliver. UNI hung tough and rallied again, scoring six straight, the last three on a trey from the corner by sharpshooter Adam Viet (Ackley, Iowa). That pulled the Panthers to within two, 39-37, with 11:42 left. But Funk responded by hitting three-pointers on the next two possessions, and UNI was unable get closer than six points the rest of the way.
The Panthers improved their shooting to 57 percent (13-for-23) in the second half, including making five three-pointers. UNI ended the game making 44.2 percent of its field goals, while Creighton connected on 44.9 percent of its shots. Creighton held a 30-26 edge in rebounding.
Creighton improved to 11-5 on the season, 5-1 in Missouri Valley Conference action, while UNI fell to 13-4 overall, 4-2 in conference. The Panthers are next in action on Thursday (Jan. 18) when they travel to face Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. Tipoff from the Hammons Student Center is 7:05 p.m.