Early morning basketball suits the UNI Panthers just fine. Coach Ben Jacobson's squad recorded its first victory of the season, beating Stephen F. Austin, 70-60, in Cedar Falls on Tuesday (Nov. 17, 2015).

Four starters scored in double-figures for the Panthers. Paul Jesperson and Matt Bohannon each tallied 15 points to pace a balanced scoring attack, while Wes Washpun and Jeremy Morgan had 14 points apiece.

The game began at 7 a.m. as part of ESPN's 24 Hours of College Hoops Tip-off Marathon. It was the earliest start time ever for the Panthers in the 10-year-old McLeod Center.

UNI never trailed in the contest. The only tie came at 2-2.

Photo By: Elwin Huffman - Waterloo Broadcasting

The Panthers took control of the game early, opening a 14-4 lead less than seven minutes into the contest. A break-away lay-up by Bohannon capped the the run, then a rally by the Lumberjacks cut the deficit to 14-10.

UNI re-gained control of the game when junior college transfer Aarias Austin drained a three-pointer, which sparked a 9-2 run and gave the Panthers an 11-point edge with 6:54 left in the first half. Austin buried another 3-pointer to close out the first-half scoring, giving UNI a 40-26 halftime advantage.

The Panthers extended the lead to 19 at 47-28 with 17:16 remaining in the game following a 3-pointer from Bohannon.

After UNI owned a 49-34 lead with 12:46 left, but went scoreless for the next five minutes. The scoring drought allowed the Lumberjacks to claw to within 49-40 at the 8:24 mark. Stephen F. Austin would get as close as eight on two different occasions, but the Lumberjacks could not get any closer.

Senior guard Thomas Walkup scored a game-high 30 points to lead Stephen F. Austin. He was the only player to reach double-figures for the Lumberjacks.

This marked the second-straight season that UNI and Stephen F. Austin have faced each other during ESPN's 24 Hours of College Hoops Tip-off Marathon. In 2014, the Panthers scored a 79-77 overtime victory in Nacogdoches, Texas, an outcome that snapped the Lumberjacks' 34-game home-court winning streak.

UP NEXT: UNI will host No. 1 ranked North Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the McLeod Center. The game will be shown live on the Panther Sports Television Network and ESPN3.