The Panthers (16-11, 9-6 Missouri Valley) shot 13 of 26 (50 percent) from behind the arc en route to their fifth win in a row. Sonnen had five 3-pointers; James and Chip Rank three apiece.
Rank, who had 11 points, hit the first of five consecutive Northern Iowa baskets from behind the arc to give the Panthers a 49-46 lead. Matt Bohannon, Rank again, James and Sonnen followed, and when that flurry was finished, Northern Iowa had a 61-50 cushion with 4:10 remaining. Drake got no closer than five points afterward, and that was in the final seconds.
Jake Koch had 11 points and three blocked shots for the Panthers.
Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, considered a lock to leave the program before struggling in the second half last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return for his junior season.
Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku, who recently underwent a medical procedure to correct a heart rhythm issue detected during the combine, will keep his name in the NBA draft pool.
Andrew White III will return to the Nebraska men's basketball team next season after removing his name from the NBA draft.