Less than 15 hours after No. 8 Florida’s 33-game home-winning streak came to an end at the hands of rival Miami, Stephen F. Austin had its 34-game home-winning streak snapped, as Northern Iowa, Wichita State’s chief competition in the Missouri Valley Conference, went in to Nacogdoches, Texas and left with a huge, 79-77 non-conference win in overtime.
The early contender for game of the tipoff marathon saw 11 ties and 23 lead changes, five of which happened in the final four minutes of the extra frame.
The wild sequence picked up with under two minutes to play with Northern Iowa up 74-72 a Seth Tuttle and-1. On the next possession, the Lumberjacks reclaimed the lead with a deep ball from Connor Brooks. Wes Washpun followed with a layup. On the next play for the Jacks, Jacob Parker was rewarded for saving a Clide Geffrard airball with a baseline layup to put Stephen F. Austin up 77-76.
Paul Jesperson’s shot with just over 30 seconds to play ended up being the decisive bucket, as Stephen F. Austin missed a good look from three from Thomas Walkup. Northern Iowa left the door open after Washpun split a pair of free throws, but as seen in the video above, Floyd’s layup took an unfriendly roll off the rim.
Walkup and Demetrius Floyd both had 20 for the Lumberjacks. Parker added 15. Marvin Singleton was one of five Panthers in double figures, leading the way with 15. Tuttle went for 13 points and eight boards while Deon Mitchell went for 14 and Washpun and Wyatt Lohaus chipped in 11 apiece.
Northern Iowa finished 16-15 (10-8 MVC) last season, but Ben Jacobsen returned more than 90 percent of his scoring and rebounding for this season. If the Panthers wanted to make a push for a second bid to come out of the Missouri Valley, they’re off to a good start. Stephen F. Austin was a No. 12 seed that reached the Round of 32 in the last season’s NCAA tournament, and is expected to be back in the field this March in Brad Underwood’s second season.
Jacobsen’s team will look to pad its non-conference resume with an upset over tournament-caliber teams like No. 15 VCU (Dec. 13), Iowa (Dec. 20) and Richmond (Nov. 30). But two games they’ll have circled on their schedule: Saturday, Jan. 31 and the regular season finale on Saturday, Feb. 28. At home and on the road against No. 11 Wichita State.