With about a minute remaining in the second half against Indiana State on Wednesday, Northern Iowa senior forward Seth Tuttle scored a bucket down low. It was a a little hook, a power move – and it gave the No. 20 Panthers control of the game, which they won, 66-60.
“It felt good going in, too,” Tuttle said on Ferrall on the Bench. “For the most part, they did a great job clogging the paint. I had a frustrating night on the offensive end, other than putting those free throws in. But to get that one to go for us at a crucial point in the game, it felt pretty good. It was big time.”
And Tuttle knew it. As soon as the shot went it, he turned and screamed.
“It was kind of a release for me just to be able to let go,” Tuttle said. “Like I said, it was kind of a frustrating night for me on the offensive end. To get that to go in and just turn and kind of let a little yell out and get everyone going, it felt great.”
Tuttle finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a steal, as three other Panthers – Matt Bohannon (17 points), Jeremy Morgan (11) and Deon Mitchell (10) – finished in double figures. Tuttle and Morgan combined to shoot 18-of-20 from the foul line, while Mitchell and Bohannon combined to shoot 8-of-11 from three-point range.
Needless to say, Northern Iowa has a lot of weapons.
“That’s what makes us so hard to guard,” Tuttle said. “Tonight, I was really happy for Matt Bohannon to really get going. For the most part, most of the teams we play against just really lock him up. They know how deadly of a shooter he is, so he doesn’t get too many shots. For him to get a couple tonight, it was a great night. You could tell he was just in a rhythm. Anytime he had any space, he was going to get it off, and it was going to go in.”
With the win, Northern Iowa (17-2, 6-1) moved to second place in the Missouri Valley Conference behind No. 14 Wichita State (17-2, 7-0).
Indiana State entered the game 9-9, but Northern Iowa knew it would be in for a dogfight.
“We’ve been here long enough to know there’s going to be games in the conference that are just going to have to be fought to the end – just nail-biters,” Tuttle said. “Basically, there’s going to be games you’re just going to have to fight through if you’re not playing very well offensively or defensively, or if both teams are playing really well to make it a great game. That was the case tonight. Indiana State’s got a great squad, a really good-coached team, a bunch of guards than can dribble-penetrate and a couple big guys that can handle the inside. So it was a big win for us.”
Northern Iowa has two road games against Illinois State (12-7, 4-3) and Southern Illinois (9-11, 2-5) on Jan. 25 and Jan. 28, respectively, before returning home for a monumental showdown with the Shockers on Jan. 31.
“I think it’s going to be a great game,” Tuttle said. “Obviously when they come here, we’ve always played them really tough at home. Our gym is completely sold out and packed for that game. It gets really loud. It’s always hard to win on the road. It’s going to be a great game. It’ll be a big game (in terms of) deciding what unfolds (in the conference).”