Prayer answered! Halfcourt buzzer-beater lifts No. 11 Northern Iowa past Texas
OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul Jesperson banked in a halfcourt shot at the buzzer to give 11th seeded Northern Iowa a 75-72 win over No. 6 seed Texas Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region.
Northern Iowa passed the ball in under its basket after Isaiah Taylor tied the game on a layup with 2.7 seconds to play. Jesperson caught the ball, took a few dribbles and heaved.
Wes Washpun scored 17 points, Jeremy Morgan scored 16 and Jesperson added 14 for the Panthers (23-12), who claimed their fifth NCAA Tournament win in school history.
Taylor scored 22 points, Eric Davis Jr. scored 13 and Javan Felix added 12 for the Longhorns (20-13).
Jesperson's shot came in the same building where Golden State's Stephen Curry hit a dramatic game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder last month.
Texas' Prince Ibeh, a 41.5-percent free throw shooter for the season, made the first of two to put the Longhorns ahead 70-69 with 45.1 seconds remaining.
Klint Carlson scored for Northern Iowa, then Taylor missed a driving layup, and Northern Iowa rebounded. Washpun was fouled with 11.9 seconds to play. He made one of two free throws to set up the final sequence.
Texas ran out to a 7-0 lead, but Northern Iowa rallied and tied the game at 11.
Jesperson made a 3-pointer, and Texas' Shaquille Cleare was called for a flagrant foul. Bennett Koch made the free throw, then Jeremy Morgan made a 3-pointer on the extra possession to give the Panthers a 21-13 lead.
Northern Iowa pushed its lead to 16 in the first half and led 44-36 at halftime. The Panthers shot 59 percent before the break. Texas would have been in even more trouble, but Taylor scored 16 points in the first half.
Holland's 3-pointer cut Northern Iowa's lead to 47-46, and Eric Davis' 3 with just under 14 minutes remaining gave Texas the lead again.
Washpun committed his fourth foul with 9:28 left in regulation and the score tied at 58. He came back in about four minutes later, and Northern Iowa had a 66-65 lead. Washpun was able to play the rest of the way.
Former Northern Iowa quarterback Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl champion with the St. Louis Rams and a two time NFL MVP, attended the game.
Northern Iowa: Panthers were 10-11 after losing to Illinois State on Jan. 23. They followed that by going 12-1 and winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. ... The Panthers improved to 3-0 in NCAA Tournament games played in Oklahoma City.
Texas: Cameron Ridley, who missed more than half the season with a broken foot, played five minutes and scored two points. ... Oklahoma, Texas' primary rival, played at the arena earlier in the day. Oklahoma's campus is about a half hour's drive south of the arena, and their fans who stuck around jeered Texas during pregame introductions.
Northern Iowa plays Texas A&M on Sunday.
Texas' season is over.