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Panthers refuse to back down, upset No. 24 Colorado 79-76
COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL

Panthers refuse to back down, upset No. 24 Colorado 79-76

From the 2019-20 UNI men's basketball coverage series
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BOULDER, Colo. — Northern Iowa climbed up the 5,354-foot elevation inside Colorado’s CU Events Center and secured a signature 79-76 men’s basketball road victory over the nation’s No. 24-ranked team Tuesday night.

After prevailing through a closing 10-minute stretch in which the lead changed hands 10 times, there was one last finishing touch for the Panthers. Point guard AJ Green served as lookout man and coach Ben Jacobson was doused in water from his exuberant team upon entering the visiting locker room.

“We were waiting,” said Green, who matched Trae Berhow with a team-high 20 points. “Everybody filled up cups of water. It was dead silent. We were waiting.

“Then I peek my head around the corner and I see Coach Jake peeking his head around. We were all just throwing water on him jumping up and down. It was great.”

Drenched afterward, Jacobson appreciated the significance of this victory for his UNI team (9-1) that continues to learn and grow.

“I got soaked, and that’s the best kind,” Jacobson said. “The guys know they accomplished something.

“After they (Colorado) took the lead late and the crowd got into it. … We had to come back one more time and put ourselves in position to win the game.”

Reserve center Justin Dahl complemented Green and Berhow with 14 points on 7-for-7 shooting. He tallied three offensive rebounds and Austin Phyfe added five for a UNI team that secured 15 offensive boards and outscored Colorado 15-12 in second chance points.

UNI made 14 of 26 3-pointers to outpace a Colorado team that hit 10 from distance at a 50 percent success rate.

Colorado (7-2) had dropped its first game three days earlier to No. 2 Kansas. But the Buffaloes were ready to trade blows with UNI on this night.

CU stretch big man Lucas Siewert drained three consecutive 3-pointers during a personal 11-point run go-ahead run and the Panthers trailed through 14 minutes of the first half.

UNI spent the final 12 minutes of the opening half without its hottest shooter on the court after Berhow was assessed a technical foul for taunting, but still managed to close the half on an 8-0 go-ahead run when reserve Antwan Kimmons worked the clock down and dished to Justin Dahl for a 33-32 halftime lead.

UNI then scored 11 points over the first two minutes of the second half. Spencer Haldeman’s 3-pointer off an Isaiah Brown offensive rebound and kick capped the major 19-0 run for a 44-32 advantage.

Colorado quickly answered with a 9-0 burst when McKinley Wright’s 3-pointer as part of his 16-point game cut the deficit to 44-41.

Berhow, who was granted a reprieve to be allowed to play in the second half, scored 17 second half points — including a 4-for-4 shooting performance from 3-point range. His accurate catch-and-shoot release helped the Panthers exchange blows with Colorado after a Siewert 3-pointer put the Buffaloes up 55-53 and set off a swing of 10 lead changes over the last 10 minutes.

“I hope he learns,” Jacobson said, addressing Berhow’s first-half technical. “I’m done with it. He’s lucky he had a bunch of assistant coaches stick up for him, or I wasn’t going to play him in the second half. He’s old enough now that he’s going to learn.

“He came back and came through for his team. He played great in the second half, some of the shots he made were terrific.”

Upset that he let his teammates down, afterwards Berhow expressed his faith that they’d hold down the fort and he’d have a chance to atone for his miscue.

“We’re so comfortable with big games right now,” Berhow said. “A lot of these games have been close, so we’re ready for the moment. Everyone is ready to make big shots.”

Trailing 76-73 after an 8-0 Colorado run, UNI’s poise continued to surface. The Panthers exited a timeout with seven seconds left on the shot clock. Green came off a Phyfe screen and Brown found him for the catch-and-shoot three with 1:10 remaining.

Jacobson then elected to trap Colorado’s Wright out of a timeout on the ensuing possession. It worked to perfection as Haldeman jumped the passing lane for the final go-ahead steal and layup.

"We felt like, ‘Hey, we’re here to win,’" Jacobson said. "That’s a play we practiced a lot, but we hadn’t done it a lot in games, and the execution was perfect."

Green added free throw after Phyfe blocked a shot, and Colorado’s last two looks from distance to tie missed. A UNI team that had struggled at times down the stretch this season, moved past miscues for a memorable victory.

“We just had to stay composed and stay true to our game,” Green said. “A few games this year, especially against West Virginia, there were times like that when other teams would go on runs. We didn’t necessarily respond the greatest. I think tonight we did a good job of sticking together and making plays on both ends of the floor.

“Being able to get past mistakes when they happen and move onto the next play, that’s something winning teams do.”

UNI 79, No. 24 Colorado 76

Colorado Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Battey 22 3-7 3-4 3 0 4 9

Bey 31 4-4 6-6 6 1 2 14

Schwartz 30 1-5 0-0 0 3 1 3

Parquet 16 1-4 1-2 1 0 2 4

Wright 36 5-10 4-4 5 6 3 16

Gatling 17 2-5 0-0 3 0 0 5

Siewart 24 7-11 2-2 4 1 1 21

Daniels 10 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 0

Walton 3 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0

Kountz 11 2-4 0-0 0 1 1 4

Team 7

Totals 200 25-53 16-18 29 13 14 76

UNI Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Phyfe 19 0-5 2-2 7 2 4 2

Green 37 6-16 3-5 2 4 3 20

Berhow 28 6-8 -3 1 0 1 20

Brown 36 3-8 2-2 5 5 3 10

Haldeman 23 3-6 0-0 4 1 3 8

Pickford 19 1-5 1-1 4 3 3 3

Dahl 19 7-7 0-1 6 2 1 14

Kimmons 15 1-3 0-0 0 2 1 2

Carter 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Betz 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Team 2

Totals 200 27-58 11-14 31 19 19 79

Colorado 32 4476

N. Iowa 33 4679

3-point goals – Colorado 10-20 (Battey 0-1, Schwartz 1-2, Parquet 1-2, Wright 2-3, Gatling 1-3, Siewert 5-7), UNI 14-26 (Green 5-10, Berhow 5-6, Brown 2-4, Haldeman 2-5, Pickford 0-1). Blocks – Colorado 1 (Bey), UNI 3 (three at 1). Turnovers – Colorado 15 (Wright 5), UNI 16 (Haldeman 5). Steals – Colorado 12 (four at 2), UNI 8 (Haldeman 3).

Att. – 6,570.

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