Rockford, Illinois News

University of Northern Iowa wins WNIT Rockford Regional

ROCKFORD — The University of Northern Iowa Panthers captured the WNIT Rockford Regional Championship Monday by knocking off the St. Louis University Billikens 58-50 at the UW Health Sports Factory.

Unlike the high-scoring affairs in the Rockford Regional, such as UW-Milwaukee’s 84-46 decision over Drake and St. Louis’s 74-72 win against Creighton, Monday’s contest was anything but. It was 5-5 after the first quarter. St. Louis led 17-16 at halftime.

And while both teams woke up in the third quarter, they still kept each other off the score sheet. After trading leads early, a UNI run sparked by a Bre Gunnels two-point basket and two three-pointers from Karli Rucker and Kam Finley put the Panthers up 36-28 going into the final frame.

Finley kept the Northern Iowa momentum going in the fourth quarter, canning two threes to push the lead to 12. She finished with a team-high 14 points. St. Louis’ Ciaja Harbison led all scorers with 18.

Former Rockford Boylan standout Peyton Kennedy played 29 seconds at the end of the contest and did not register a shot. The freshman logged 87 minutes for the Billikens this season and scored 21 points, including a season-high 15 points against Memphis Dec. 20.

The Panthers face Ole Miss Friday, March 26, in the WNIT Final Four. Ole Miss moved past Colorado 65-56 Monday to win the Memphis Regional.