ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Northern Iowa center Jordan Eglseder is officially back.
The 7-foot senior, who missed three games in late February due to a suspension for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds on Saturday to lead Northern Iowa over Bradley 57-40 in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
The top-seeded Panthers (27-4) advance to the title game for the fourth time. They won it last year and in 2004, and are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back tournament titles since Creighton in 2002-03.
Marc Sonnen came off the bench to add 10 points for Northern Iowa, which won for the fifth time in the last six games. Adam Koch, the MVC Player of the Year, added seven points and a team-high six rebounds.
Andrew Warren paced fifth-seeded Bradley (16-15) with 12 points and Sam Maniscalco had 10 points.
Eglseder, the tallest player in school history, hit on four of six shots from the field in 22 minutes. He scored a pair of early baskets to lead the Panthers to a 19-6 start. Bradley never got closer than to within nine points the rest of the way.
"I was doing sprints when I was off, making sure I was still in shape," said Eglseder. "My first game back, I tried to do too much and was cramping up really bad.
"But I feel good now, really good."
Northern Iowa guard Ali Farokhmanesh hit a pair of baskets, including a 3-pointer, in the game's first 34 seconds. Eglseder followed with a jumper and Koch added two free throws to push the lead to 9-2.
Bradley climbed to within 22-13 on a 3-point play by Warren, but Northern Iowa answered with a 14-6 spurt to take a 36-19 lead into half.
The Panthers have set a school record for most wins in a season. They were ranked as high as 19th in the AP Top 25 before dropping two of their final five regular-season contests.
Maniscalco, who scored 31 points in a 81-62 quarterfinal win over Creighton on Friday, had a string of 170 minutes without a turnover snapped in the first minute on Saturday.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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