Northern Iowa (2-3) vs. La Salle (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 25, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sports and Fitness Center (4,000) -- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Iowa 1-0, La Salle 2-0. Away Record: Northern Iowa 0-2, La Salle 0-1. Neutral Record: Northern Iowa 1-1, La Salle 1-1. Conference Record: Northern Iowa 0-0, La Salle 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The Northern Iowa Panthers will go up against the La Salle Explorers to decide the third-place finisher of the Paradise Jam at the Sports and Fitness Center on Monday.
After fighting their way to Sunday's semifinal round the Panthers were sent away with an 80-66 loss to Maryland. The setback came after the Panthers topped Loyola Marymount (90-81) in the tournament opener on Friday night. The uneven performance is in line with how Northern Iowa has been playing, as it has traded wins and losses over its five contests.
La Salle has fallen back to .500 after suffering a 71-63 loss to Providence on Sunday during the semifinals of the Paradise Jam. The Explorers did top Morgan State, 78-59, to open the tournament but have still lost two of their last three games.
Prior to Monday's action these teams had never been matched up on the hardwood.
The Panthers hung with the Terrapins in the first half, trailing only 33-30 at halftime by holding a 9-0 edge from beyond the arc during the opening period. After the break, the Panthers allowed the Terrapins to net 50 percent from the floor. Northern Iowa was outscored 42-28 in the paint during the contest.
On the season the Panthers are scoring a solid 75.2 points per game, despite shooting below 44 percent from the floor. Unfortunately, the Panthers are suffering from a negative turnover margin (-1.8), though it is a slim differential. Deon Mitchell (14.4 ppg) is the leading scorer on the roster and has been doing so efficiently, netting 52.1 percent of his shots from the floor. Mitchell was uncharacteristically erratic with his shot against Maryland, as he had 13 points, but on 5-of-12 shooting. Seth Tuttle (13.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg) anchors the Panthers in the post and Chip Ranks (!2.8 ppg) and Matt Bohannon (12.0 ppg) are gunners from beyond the arc.
Despite having four players in double figures, including a double-double from Steve Zack, the Explorers were unable to overcome the Friars. La Salle shot at a 45-percent clip in the contest, but suffered from a 20-7 deficit on points from the free-throw line.
A positive to be taken from the loss was the improved shooting for the Explorers. On the season, La Salle is hitting just 41.8 percent of its shots from the floor, including a meager 31.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Explorers still struggled from 3-point range against Providence, with only 2- of-7 attempts finding the bottom of the net. Tyrone Garland (18 ppg) is the team's best shooter and the leading scorer on the roster. Garland finished with 14 points, but he needed as many field goal attempts to reach the total against the Friars. Tyreek Duren (16.8 ppg) was right in line with his season average, as he netted 16 against Providence. Jerrell Wright (13.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is the final member of the squad averaging in double figures.
An uneven start to the year for La Salle has exposed some weakness in the Explorers. Expect a more consistent effort and a win on Monday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 72, Northern Iowa 64
11/25 10:33:59 ET