Sometimes, all it takes is a heave and a prayer. After giving up a 16-point lead, No. 11 Northern Iowa beat sixth-seeded Texas on a half-court shot from Paul Jesperson to win the game 75–72 at the buzzer and advance in the West region. After Texas junior guard Isaiah Taylor tied the game at 72 with just under three seconds remaining, Jesperson arched a sky-high shot from half-court to shock the Longhorns at the buzzer. Jesperson scored 14 points and shot 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, while senior guard Wes Washpun led the team with 17 points. For the Longhorns, Taylor led the team with 22 points and added six assists.
Why it matters
Northern Iowa looks like a Cinderella—again. The Panthers have a star scoring guard in Washpun, shooters in junior guard Jeremy Morgan and senior guards Matt Bohanan, as well as Friday’s hero, Jesperson. With their 11th-ranked scoring defense and 18th-ranked free-throw shooting, Northern Iowa has a good shot in a weak West bracket. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers make a run. Plus, they’ve already got a little midnight magic on their side.
On Sunday, Northern Iowa will take on No.3 Texas A&M in Oklahoma City. The Aggies beat No. 14 seed Green Bay 92–65 on Friday.