A Friday full of upsets added another in the second-to-last game of the NCAA tournament's first round, and Paul Jesperson and No. 11 seed Northern Iowa pulled it out in arguably the most dramatic fashion possible.
Texas star guard Isaiah Taylor appeared to force overtime on a short pull-up jumper with 2.7 seconds on the clock, but UNI inbounded the ball quickly enough to allow senior Paul Jesperson to try a halfcourt heave. He found the backboard in just the right spot to send the Panthers into the second round.
Jesperson's heave is sure to live on in memory alongside classic March Madness winners. He finished with 14 points in the 75-72 win with all four of his field goals coming from beyond the arc.
It's remarkably Northern Iowa's second-straight buzzer-beating win. Guard Wes Washpun won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on this pull-up jumper against Evansville:
Those friendly bounces sure do help.
Here's how Northern Iowa's play-by-play man called the victory against Texas:
Friday's thrilling finish finished off a succession of big moments on both sides. Klint Carlson gave UNI a 71-70 lead on a driving lay-up with 27 seconds left, only for Taylor to miss a potential go-ahead bucket at the other end. Northern Iowa's Wes Washpun then split a pair of free throws to give Taylor another chance to tie with his big basket in the closing seconds. It looked for certain that the game was heading to the extra period before Jesperson's unlikely make.
It was a fitting end to a game that did not see a margin of more than six points in the second half. Texas will have to settle for the first-round exit in Shaka Smart's first season at the helm, while Northern Iowa will face No. 3 seed Texas A&M on Sunday.
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