CEDAR FALLS | A slow start on the offensive end gave way to a poor finish on the defensive end.
While the opponents are changing, the results, unfortunately, are staying exactly the same for the Northern Iowa men's basketball team.
Brenton Scott put together a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Indiana State shot 63 percent in the second half, topping UNI 77-66 and dropping the Panthers to 3-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference Saturday.
Following a dismal start, in which the Sycamores built a 13-2 lead, the Panthers were able to show some resolve thanks to strong outside shooting.
After shooting just 34 percent from the floor in their last two games, the Panthers opened the game 10-of-16, and even rallied to take a 33-29 lead. Spencer Haldeman highlighted the run with three first-half 3-pointers.
But after the lead changed hands five times in the first four minutes of the second half, Indiana State took control for good with a lights out shooting display. The Sycamores opened the half 9-of-12 and went 15-of-24 overall.
The Panthers, who've now lost six Valley games in which they held a second-half lead, have allowed 50 percent or better shooting in seven of their last eight games, a stat that doesn't sit well with defensive-minded coach Ben Jacobson.
"Most of that is our mistakes," Jacobson said. "We're guarding the basketball, reach and a guy goes by us so we're forced into a help situation and that leads to an open 3. Miscommunication on a ball screen, that leads to an open 3. We've got to get that taken care of on the practice floor."
Perhaps most disappointing is that ISU was able to do this with Jordan Barnes, the Valley's third-leading scorer entering Saturday, going scoreless until the final 1:28 of the half. The Sycamores even outscored UNI 15-10 during a 5:18 stretch when Barnes was out with two fouls.
Bennett Koch had his second-straight strong offensive game for UNI, finishing with 16 points. Klint Carlson and Isaiah Brown were also in double figures with 14 and 10 respectively.
Tywhon Pickford led UNI with seven rebounds and needs just 10 more to break Eric Coleman's freshman record of 205.
There's a lot to be critical about regarding the Panthers, who've now lost 11 of their last 14 games, and Jacobson says it starts at the top, as the veteran coach gave a highly critical assessment of his own performance following the game.
"The only way you fix (these problems) is on the practice floor. I have not done a good enough job with the practice opportunities that we've had," he said "It's obvious by the way we've played in stretches or on individual plays that I have not done a good enough job of holding the guys accountable on the practice floor.
"I'm disappointed in myself for that, and I know it's frustrating for the guys."
Carlson, arguably the team's most vocal leader, wasn't willing to let he and his teammates off the hook, preaching the importance of accountability as the losses continue to mount.
"If a guy's not doing what he's got to do, we've got to get on them," Carlson said. "Same thing, if we're not doing what we've got to do, other guys have got to get on us.
"We're making a lot of mistakes we've talked about, and we're still making them. We're making a lot of mistakes we used to not make. We've got to figure it out. Just really put our heads down and go."
Things don't get easier for UNI, which hosts a streaking Bradley team at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Braves topped the Panthers 72-53 on New Year's Eve.