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Game Recap: Northern Iowa shuts down Wichita State's offense, ends longest home win streak

Northern Iowa used its zone defense to perfection, ending the longest home win streak in the country.

Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

Northern Iowa's defense came to play on the road at Wichita State and ended the longest home winning streak in the country. It was a sharp contrast to how the Panther defense has played for the majority of the season, but something about playing the Shockers brings out the best in UNI.

Ben Jacobson took a page out of the Illinois State book after the Redbirds handed the Shockers their first loss in the Missouri Valley. The UNI coach had the Panthers in the zone for the majority of the game, confounding the Shockers, and eliminating their ability to drive and score.

The result was a 53-50 win for the Panthers despite two chances late for Wichita State to tie the game and force an extra five minutes.

Ron Baker had a strong look straight on with six seconds left that bounced away off Northern Iowa's hands and allowed the Shockers one last chance. Fred VanVleet got the ball to Conner Frankamp in the corner for a wide-open look, but it also clanged off the rim, closing the book on a 43-game home winning streak by the Shockers. The loss also ended a 24-game home winning streak in conference, one shy of the school record.

It is due to the new look Northern Iowa team, which now holds three wins over AP top 25 opponents this season. The Panthers have stopped relying so heavily on Wes Washpun to generate their offense and have done a much better job of distributing the ball around the perimeter to find their shots.

It paid off in this game as Matt Bohannon went 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and the Panthers stretched the Wichita State defense, opening the interior. As a result, Klint Carlson came off the bench to score 12 points, and Wyatt Lohaus added another 11, mostly inside, for Northern Iowa.

Wichita State couldn't do its part from deep, finishing a dismal 7-for-31 from 3-point range. The Shockers have been overly reliant on the 3-point shot this season compared to the last few years of their dominance. Almost 40 percent of their attempt have been coming behind the arc, and on days when they are cold, like Saturday, it has proven difficult to pull out their comebacks.

The game seemed to turn late in the first half as Northern Iowa held Wichita State scoreless for almost four minutes and built an 11-point lead into the break. The Shockers managed to tie the game at 44 midway through the second half, but then both teams spent four minutes trading missed shots. Northern Iowa was the first to find the mark, and Wichita State just didn't have enough to come back all the way once again.

The Shockers fall to 12-2 in conference with the loss, but maintain a two-game lead of Illinois State. Northern Iowa has now battled its way back into the heart of the battle for second place, improving to 8-6 in the league with its six straight wins.