ORLANDO — The Ben Jacobson magic continues for Northern Iowa.
For a majority of this game, the Panthers were playing from behind. They held the lead at the 12:15 mark in the 1st half when the score was 7-6, and wouldn’t get it back for almost 31 minutes.
The Sooners had a lead as big as 18, and had a 15 point lead at the 11:27 mark, which seemed like a comfortable margin at the time.
Then Oklahoma went cold.
Actually, going cold is an understatement. The Sooners were frostbitten — and didn’t make another field goal until the final minute of regulation.
On the broad shoulders of Klint Carlson, the Panthers clawed back little by little. A three by Carlson here. Jordan Ashton hits one after. Before you know it, the Panthers were within striking distance, and eventually took the lead with 53 seconds remaining after another Carlson three. The Sooners fought back, and managed to force overtime.
It was all Panthers from there. They had gained too much momentum, and poured in 14 points in the extra period. Carlson hit one more three to put Northern Iowa up 67-64, and they never looked back from there.
The Panthers prevailed 73-67, handing Oklahoma their first loss of the season. Northern Iowa improved to 3-0 behind Carlson’s career-high of 22 points. Jeremy Morgan had a monster stat line of 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 steals, and 4 blocks, and iced the game with five free throws in the final minute.
Northern Iowa will advance to the championship game of the Tire Pros Invitational where they will face Xavier, who is ranked No. 11 in the country.