Earlier this season, we discussed the Interlude, the dance craze started by three Northern Iowa students which quickly swept through campus, becoming a UNI tradition as well as an internet sensation. Since my piece on the Interlude was published, the dance received approval from the highest ranks of our nation. On February 9, First Lady Michelle Obama danced the Interlude on stage with a group of elementary school students during a seminar on children's fitness in Des Moines -- sparkling, fist-pumping, and robot ninja-ing like she'd invented the dance herself.
Being a well-known tradition now, of course the dance makes the journey to St. Louis along with the Panthers for Arch Madness. My MVC mole saw the dance for the first time at last year's tournament and alerted me to its awesomeness, which is how I became aware of it in the first place.
Surely enough, at the appointed time, the first media timeout in the second half, I became the only person in my section of the sparsely populated upper deck warming up around the fire. Along with the band, the crowd of UNI fans across the arena, and a few other folks scattered around the arena, I once again danced my new favorite dance.
As for the game, the Interlude actually played a role as well. Usually seen as a motivator for the Panthers on the floor, the dance is welcomed. After Friday's game, however, I'm afraid it might have lost some of its luster.
Pre-interlude the game was tight, a back-and-forth between two even teams. Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael had set the early pace for the Redbirds with six points, but had faded into the background while Northern Iowa released a perimeter shooting blitz led by Johnny Moran and Jake Koch.
At the first media timeout of the second half, Interlude time, Northern Iowa held on to a 29-27 lead.
Post-Interlude time saw the re-emergence of Carmichael, as he took total control of the game with an OMGDUNX-AND-ONE to give ISU a three-point lead. He followed that up with a brutal block of a Johnny Moran layup attempt, one of five blocks on the game for Carmichael.
Northern Iowa went ice-cold from the field, making only five field goals over the last 15 minutes of the game. Illinois State outscored Northern Iowa 27-13 in the Post-Interlude times, and what was a tight game became an easy 12-point ISU win.
For their efforts, Illinois State gets a matchup with the top seed Wichita State. For Northern Iowa and their lone senior, Johnny Moran, a 19-13 record should assure a spot in some post-postseason action, but for our intents their star no longer sparkles.
ILLINOIS STATE 54, NORTHERN IOWA 42 03/02/2012
NORTHERN IOWA 19-13 (9-9) -- J. Moran 5-13 0-0 13; J. Koch 3-11 2-4 9; M. Sonnen 2-7 0-0 6; A. James 1-9 0-0 2; C. Rank 2-5 1-2 6; D. Mitchell 0-3 2-2 2; S. Tuttle 1-4 0-0 2; A. Pehl 0-0 2-2 2; M. Morrison 0-3 0-0 0; T. Lange 0-0 0-0 0; M. Martino 0-0 0-0 0; M. Singleton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-55 7-10 42. ILLINOIS STATE 19-12 (9-9) -- J. Carmichael 5-11 6-7 16; B. Allen 3-11 0-0 8; T. Brown 3-10 1-2 7; N. Moore 2-7 4-4 8; J. Ekey 2-7 0-0 4; A. Cousin 2-4 0-0 5; J. Wilkins 3-5 0-0 6; Z. Upshaw 0-1 0-0 0; D. Clark 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 11-13 54.
Three-point goals: UNI 7-23 (A. James 0-2; J. Koch 1-5; J. Moran 3-7; M. Sonnen 2-6; C. Rank 1-3), ILST 3-20 (J. Ekey 0-2; Z. Upshaw 0-1; B. Allen 2-8; A. Cousin 1-1; J. Wilkins 0-1; T. Brown 0-3; D. Clark 0-2; N. Moore 0-2); Rebounds: UNI 31 (J. Koch 8), ILST 40 (J. Carmichael 15); Assists: UNI 11 (J. Koch 3), ILST 6 (J. Carmichael 2); Total Fouls -- UNI 14, ILST 13; Fouled Out: UNI-None; ILST-None.