Despite a strong effort by TCU, the Northern Iowa Panthers handed the frogs their first defeat in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum this season. TCU was led by Garlon Green with 14 points, while Sammy Yeager and Nikola Gacesa chipped in 13 and 12 points respectively.
Nothern Iowa jumped out to 7-2, led by Kwandzo Ahelegbe, who scored the first seven points for UNI. TCU was able to get a few turnovers which turned into four points, all of which were scored by Green. However, the frogs couldn’t hit anything on the court, going 2-9 from the field and 0-4 from the three point line.
TCU finally started to hit shots and got three offensive rebounds in four minutes, compared to zero in the first 10 minutes of play. In addition, their defense forced UNI to take poor shots and caused 5 turnovers.
Ronnie Moss hit a three with just under four minutes to take a 19-17 lead. TCU was able to add a bucket to take a 21-17 lead. However, a technical foul call on J.R. Cadot led to pair of foul shots for UNI, followed by a Lucas O’Rear dunk tied the game up at 21-21.
“The first half, we let the emotions get the best of us,” said head coach Jim Christian. “That was a big decision, and really an undisiciplined play. He’s gotta learn from that and we have to learn from that.”
The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half until UNI took a 28-26 lead into the locker room.
After the break, neither team was able to take immediate control of the game. TCU hit a three and a couple field goals but UNI answered with a few scores of their own to maintain a 35-33 lead.
TCU tied the game at 35 on a Yeager lay-up, then Moss gave the frogs a 40-37 lead on a three and TCU was able to build up a 44-40 lead. However, UNI never gave up and kept attacking the frog’s defense, leading to a 55-50 panther lead.
The frogs played hard defense and were able to chip away at the lead. J.R. Cadot fouled out with a little over four minutes remaining, but his lay-up help cut the Panther lead to 55-52.
Not having Cadot for the last four and a half minutes hurt the Frogs.
“He’s our top rebounder, plays hard defense each and every game,” said Yeager. “It affected on the defensive end and rebounding.”
A basket by Green and a pair of Gacesa free throws helped keep the game within reach for TCU. UNI hit a couple free throws to extend their lead to 61-56. A bucket by Gacesa made it 61-58 giving the frogs a chance to tie the game.
Moss had a three point shot opportunity and tried to draw the foul but the refs didn’t call it. UNI recovered the ball and hit two free throws. A quick lay-up by TCU kept it a three-point game. The Frogs were forced to foul and Ahelegbe hit one of two to seal the 64-60 win for the Panthers. Ahelegbe led all scorers with 25.
Christian said he knew that this was a tough loss for the team, but it was one to learn from.
“We played hard, but you have to play smart to be a good basketball team… they executed down the stretch. They took advantage when we broke down. We turned the ball over one time on a simple fundamental play…We gotta learn from it. We were in a position to win the game.”
The frogs fall to 6-3 on the season while UNI improves to 4-2. TCU will hit the road and take on Texas Tech on Wednesday.