There’s no way a team can leave a tournament with three losses and act like it accomplished something.
Northern Iowa may have lost all its games at the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas, but two were against ranked teams and both went down to the wire.
The Panthers played half of the four ranked teams in the field, the second a 52-47 loss to No. 19 Memphis on Saturday in the seventh-place game.
“I was really excited when we got the call to come here. I looked it over and we told them we wanted in,” Panthers Coach Ben Jacobson said. “Even knowing the field, I think that’s why I was so excited. That kind of challenge. When you take on a challenge of this magnitude, this early in the year, there is a chance what happened, could happen. But this isn’t something we’re going to shy away from.”
The Panthers (3-3) lost 51-46 to No. 2 Louisville in the opener and 66-50 to Stanford in the consolation semifinals.
Northern Iowa, best known for its upset of No. 1 Kansas in the 2010 NCAA tournament, showed again numbers in front of team names don’t faze them.
“In the three games we have played down here, I thought our first 20 minutes were very sharp,” Jacobsen said. “We moved the ball well and found guys in the right places. We rebounded better (against Memphis) than in the first two games. The hard part is we didn’t have enough to show for it.”
The Panthers aren’t leaving the Bahamas empty-handed.
“I think there are a lot of things we’ll take from it (this tournament), most importantly are the stretches we played against Louisville in the second half,” Jacobsen said. “The guys did a number of very good things we can build on.”
Deon Mitchell led the Panthers against Memphis with 18 points and five assists.
“I feel like the first few games we weren’t flowing with our usual motion,” Mitchell said.
UNLV 82, IOWA STATE 70 — Freshman Anthony Bennett scored 22 points and No. 18 UNLV beat Iowa State in the consolation game of the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas.
UNLV (3-1) began to pull away late in the second half. After Will Clyburn’s tip-in at 7:24 cut Iowa State’s deficit to 57-54, the Rebels closed the game with a 25-16 run.
The Runnin’ Rebels used a pair of runs to seize momentum midway through the first half, but Iowa State (4-2) managed to stay close.
Clyburn had 21 points and 15 rebounds. Tyrus McGee added 12 points, Melvin Eljm 10.