Texas thought it was headed to overtime with Northern Iowa after point guard Isaiah Taylor hit a floater with 2.7 seconds left to tie the game at 72.
Heck, I think the whole world thought that was the case.
But this is the 2016 NCAA Tournament, where the impossible has become downright ordinary.
Paul Jesperson ran as far as he could, heaved up a shot from just beyond half-court, and gave us yet another iconic Northern Iowa moment to give the No. 11-seeded Panthers the 75-72 upset win over No. 6-seeded Texas.
It’s not quite the same scene as when Ali Farokhmanesh hit his ridiculous 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in the game against No. 1 seed Kansas in 2010, but the degree of difficulty was undeniably higher on this one. Full sprint. Time running down. Just a heave and a prayer — a miraculous one at that.
“I was just hoping it was going in,” Jesperson said after the shot went home. “It felt good when it left my hands.”
The shot gave Northern Iowa its first wins in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in school history. It also set a record for double-digit seeds winning in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as it was the 10th time in just 28 games that a double-digit seed had emerged victorious.
The win also ruined a potential Texas-Texas A&M rivalry matchup in the second round that everyone seemed to be looking ahead to. Instead, it’ll be Northern Iowa taking on the Aggies, on as hot a run as anyone in the field — winning 13 of their previous 14 games.
For Jesperson, the shot heard-round-the-country was his fourth 3-pointer and 14th points of the game. And boy, did his team need all of them, especially late. The Panthers opened up a pretty sizable lead throughout the first half, but by the mid-way point of the second half, Texas had closed the gap and even taken the lead on the back of Taylor, the point guard who was terrific throughout the proceedings.
But the Panthers kept it close, and eventually took the late lead on a Klint Carlson layup with 11 seconds remaining. The Taylor floater tied it, but coach Ben Jacobson opted not to take a timeout as he trusted his guys to do the right thing. That led to Jesperson’s moment, and it’s one that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Because in the end, it was more sorcery from Cedar Falls that ruled the day. The Northern Iowa Panthers have done it again, and busted some brackets in the process.