No. 14 Northern Iowa handles Drake 69-53

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) After letting Drake get within single digits, No. 14 Northern Iowa needed to make a few plays to put away the Bulldogs.

The Panthers answered with three 3s in 103 seconds and cruised to yet another easy win.

Seth Tuttle scored 16 points, Matt Bohannon added 14 and Northern Iowa handled Drake 69-53 on Saturday for its 11th straight victory.

Paul Jesperson scored 12 for the Panthers (22-2, 11-1 Missouri Valley), who shot 11 of 20 from 3-point range and 64 percent overall.

Northern Iowa raced out to a 16-point halftime lead and was only briefly threatened in the second half.

Drake (7-17, 4-8) closed to 51-42 before Nate Buss sandwiched a 3 around two 3s from fellow reserve Paul Jesperson.

''They hit some big ones,'' Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said.

Reed Timmer had 10 points for Drake (7-17, 4-8), which had won three in a row.

Drake coach Ray Giacoletti's long-term plan to build the Bulldogs into a Valley contender had started to pay off in recent weeks. Drake had moved past a dreadful 4-16 start with wins over Bradley, Evansville and Southern Illinois.

Northern Iowa is simply playing at a different level.

Tuttle, Bohannon and Buss hit 3s in the first 3:26 - all open shots created by terrific passing from the patient Panthers.

It took just six minutes for Northern Iowa to grab its first double-digit lead, 14-4, and the Panthers hit six of their first eight 3s in building a cushion it would lean on in the second half.

Northern Iowa stretched its lead to 36-20 at halftime as Tuttle found Buss under the basket for an easy dunk with two seconds left.

''They're extremely efficient offensively,'' Giacoletti said of Northern Iowa. ''Defensively, they're really focused. Five people working as one.''

Wes Washpun had six assists for the Panthers, who won their third in a row by at least 10 points.

''We have a lot of depth, and I just think we can keep getting better,'' Jacobson said.

TIP-INS

Drake: Timmer scored 52 points during Drake's recent winning streak. Timmer is a freshman and a likely cornerstone for Giacoletti, now in his second season with the Bulldogs. ''

Northern Iowa: UNI wore black uniforms for the first time, and the script read ''Panthers'' rather than the school's initials. ... The Panthers have won 15 straight at home dating back to last season and are 12-0 at the McLeod Center this season.

STAT LINES

The teams combined for just 37 rebounds. Drake had nine players score between four and eight points. Northern Iowa's bench, which ranks among the most efficient in the country, scored 31 points.

QUOTABLE

''It would have been a lot of fun to play them. But that's just how it goes. We'll get a shot at them next year,'' Jesperson said about the Panthers not getting to face No. 11 Iowa State this season. The Panthers won all three of their games against instate rivals, sweeping Drake and beating Iowa 56-44 in Des Moines in December.

UP NEXT

Drake hosts Bradley on Wednesday.

Northern Iowa hosts Illinois State on Wednesday.

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