CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - University of Northern Iowa senior guard Ali Farokhmanesh poured in a career-high 23 points and the No. 24-ranked Panthers scored a 71-62 victory over the Old Dominion Monarchs in a BracketBusters matchup in the McLeod Center.
Farokhmanesh scored all 23 of his points in the second half as he drained five 3-pointers and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line. The victory gives UNI a school record 24 victories to go against only three defeats. ODU fell to 21-8 overall in the loss.
ODU held a 8-6 lead following a bucket for Keyon Carter with 15:21 left in the first half. UNI then responded with a 15-2 run to open up a 21-10 lead with 8:51 left in the half. The run was started by back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnny Moran and Jake Koch.
The Panthers took it right to the Monarchs in the first half on the boards by holding a 17-9 lead at the half. ODU entered the game No. 5 in the nation in rebound margin at +8.6 per game.
UNI also benefited from an unlikely scoring source in Adam Rodenberg in the first half. Rodenberg entered the game having not scored a point, but he made all three of his field goal attempts to tally a season-high six points in the first 20 minutes.
The second half simply belonged to Farokhmanesh. He went 0-for-2 from the field in the first half but made 6-of-10 shots from the field in the second half and buried all six free throw attempts. He hit his first 3-pointer of the second half at the 18:36 mark to give UNI a 34-25 lead.
Farokhmanesh got the crowd going shortly thereafter with a rare 4-point play as he drained a triple and was fouled with 16:16 left in the game. Lucas O'Rear put the crowd even further into a frenzy with a steal and dunk at the 16:00 mark to put UNI on top, 40-30.
Freshman Marc Sonnen gave UNI its biggest lead of the game with 12:25 left when he buried a triple to make it 49-35 and force ODU head coach Blaine Taylor to take a timeout. Following the timeout, ODU trimmed the lead to 51-46 on a bucket from Gerald Lee. Lee then had a chance to cut into the five-point margin, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Farokhmanesh came down the floor after the Lee missed free throw and sank another 3-pointer to put the Panthers on top, 54-46. Farokhmanesh made the next Panther bucket by driving to the basket and making a scoop layup as the shot clock expired with 5:55 left in the contest.
The Monarchs' Kent Bazemore drained a 3-pointer to pull ODU to within seven points at 56-49 with 5:28 left, but Farokhmanesh answered with a 3-pointer of his own and ODU would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
ODU was led in scoring by Gerald Lee with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field.
NOTES: The contest was played in front a season-high crowd of 7,031 fans - the third-highest total in the history of the McLeod Center ... the Panthers have scored 70-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time since the Paradise Jam when they scored 74 against East Carolina and 81 against Boston College ... UNI has won 14 straight games at home and is 13-0 at the McLeod Center this season ... UNI outrebounded ODU, 30-26 ... UNI's bench outscored ODU, 18-9.