Southern Illinois holds off Northern Iowa 56-53 in MVC

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Marcus Bartley hit back-to-back a 3-pointers as Southern Illinois fought into the lead early in the second quarter, and Armon Fletcher hit a big 3 inside the final minute as the Salukis had just enough to hold off Northern Iowa 56-53 in the opener of Missouri Valley Conference play Thursday night.

Kavion Pippen led with 14 points, Bartley added 12 and Fletcher eight for Southern Illinois (9-5), which won for the first time in 12 games at Northern Iowa's McLeod Center and the first win at UNI since 2003.

Trailing 25-22 at halftime, Bartley wrapped two of his four 3-pointers around a Northern Iowa turnover as the Salukis scrapped into a 39-35 lead with 9:38 to play. Southern Illinois never trailed again, but didn't get any daylight on the Panthers until Fletcher's 3 made it 55-48 with 58 seconds left.

The lead was just enough as SIU missed five of six free throws in the last 40 seconds.

Tywhon Pickford led UNI (8-5) with 13 points. Northern Iowa had played the nation's second-toughest nonconference schedule.

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