WICHITA -- Northern Iowa got a team-high 21 points from Kwadzo Ahelegbe as the Panthers outlasted the Wichita State University men's basketball team Wednesday night, defeating the Shockers 77-74 in a Missouri Valley Conference match-up.
Kwadzo Ahelegbe was 10-of-12 from the charity stripe while he pulled down four boards as the Panthers improved to 14-6 on the season, 5-3 in Valley play. Anthony James was the second Panther to reach 20 points as he was 9-of-13 from the field while John Moran added another 12 points and four rebounds for UNI.
The Shockers, who drop to 15-4, 6-2 in the Valley, were led by David Kyles and J.T. Durley who had 14 points each. Ben Smith came off the bench to add another 10 points while Joe Ragland and Demetric Williams contributed nine points each.
Northern Iowa jumped out to an early 10-3 lead before the first media timeout as James put down half of the Panthers points. The Shockers came stroming back at the 12-minute mark as a dunk by Gabe Blair was followed by a long three from Kyles as the score went from 12-10, UNI, to 16-12, WSU in under two minutes. The two teams battled throughout the reaminder of the first half as neither was able to gain more than a five-point advantage.
Kyles led all scorers at the break with 11 points including a 3-for-4 line from long range. Smith came off the bench to add five points while Durley had another seven points and two rebounds for WSU.
Ahelegbe dropped in 12 points for UNI.
Wichita State shot a robust 64 percent from the floor in the first half (14-of-22) while the Panthers were right behind them at 60 percent (15-for-25). The visiting teams' advantage at the half (39-35) came from the charity stripe where UNI was 5-for-6 compared to 2-for-3 for the Shockers.
The battle for the lead continued in the second half. WSU went up two (60-58) with just under six minutes remaining when a UNI foul put Joe Ragland on the line for the Shockers. Ragland, who entered the game as a 94 percent free-throw shooter (16-for-17) hit both attempts to give WSU its largest lead of the half (62-58).
Ragland was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the game.
UNI, as they had done throughout the contest, followed up with a three ball from Koch to cut the deficit back down to one (62-61). The Panthers put up four more with the Shockers countering with a pair as the teams headed into the three minute mark.
An Ahelegbe layup with 32 seconds remaining seemed to put the visiting team in the drivers seat as UNI went up 73-68. With Ahelegbe missing the follow-up attempt from the free throw line the Shockers stormed down the court with Kyles dropping in one of his four three-pointers on the night to cut the margin back to two (73-71).
Moran hit a pair of free throw attempts with the Shockers again answering with a three, this time from Ragland to make the score 75-74, UNI. With less than five seconds on the clock the Shockers finally ran out of magic as Koch dropped in another pair from the charity stripe to seal the win.
Koch finished with 12 points for UNI.
Following the loss the Shockers will stay at home for the second game of a two-game home stand as they host the Sycamores of Indiana State on Saturday, Jan. 22. Tip-off is slated for 7:05 p.m.