Panthers rip Redbirds to reach MVC semis

MOLINE, Ill. — A little defense did the trick for the Northern Iowa women’s basketball team.

The Panthers held Illinois State to 20-percent shooting and advanced to the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as a result, stifling the Redbirds 56-36 on Friday night at the TaxSlayer Center.

Illinois State shot a paltry 10-for-50 from the field, which included a 1-for-15 performance from 3-point range, and the sixth-seeded Redbirds (14-16) fell in their tournament opener.

No. 3 Northern Iowa (18-12) advances to meet No. 2 Missouri State (20-10) in today’s 4 p.m. semifinal.

The Panthers were led to victory by a game-high 15 points from Megan Maahs, who also paced UNI with seven rebounds. Kennedy Kirkpatrick knocked down two of the Panthers’ eight 3-pointers and added 10 points to the victory.

Abby Gerrits came in off the bench and went 3-for-3 from 3-point land to add nine points to the Panthers’ final tally.

UNI led 32-18 at the half and continued to pull away after intermission.

Simone Goods paced Illinois State with 10 points.