Northern Iowa stuns No. 1 North Carolina 71-67

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Saturday, November 21, 2015
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northern Iowa
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northern Iowa
Charlie Neibergall-AP

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- North Carolina only scheduled a trip to Northern Iowa as a homecoming for Marcus Paige.

The Tar Heels could've used their injured senior star against the Panthers.

Wes Washpun scored 21 points and Northern Iowa stunned top-ranked North Carolina 71-67 on Saturday - just a week after losing to Colorado State at home.

The Panthers used a 29-8 stretch over 12 minutes of the second half to turn a 50-34 deficit into a 63-58 lead, and held on for the upset.

"Very disappointed in me, more so than my team. We acted like a team that had not been coached very well out there," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. We "made a lot of mistakes."

Northern Iowa also got 19 points from Matt Bohannon - whose 3-pointer with 2:51 left gave Northern Iowa the lead for good - and 14 points from Paul Jesperson.

Justin Jackson had 25 points for the Tar Heels (3-1), who didn't force a single turnover in the second half.

Paige didn't play because of a broken bone in his right hand. The Tar Heels missed him badly him, as Paige's replacement, Joel Berry, had just five points on 2-of-7 shooting.

"He's our best player offensively and defensively and as fine a young man as I've ever been around in my life, so I'd like to have him on the court," Williams said. "But North Carolina still plays."

The Panthers (2-1) also beat the Tar Heels in the paint, 24-22, after Kennedy Meeks scored the first eight points for UNC.

Meeks finished with just 10 points, a total matched by Brice Johnson. The 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-9 forwards never established the inside game for UNC, and the Panthers were able to exploit that the rest of the way.

North Carolina appeared to be in control in the first half. But Washpun made a half-court 3 at the buzzer to pull the Panthers within 41-32, and Jeremy Morgan's 3 cut it to 52-48.

Wyatt Lohaus gave Northern Iowa the lead with 9:21 left, and the Panthers were able to finish off one of the biggest upsets of the young season.

It was the biggest win for Northern Iowa since 2010, when it stunned top-seeded Kansas to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

"They had to play their tails off in that second half. The game was just about over with 15 minutes left and our guys hung in there and made a couple shots," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. "That last 10 minutes, I couldn't ask any more from our guys."


North Carolina: The Tar Heels committed 12 turnovers ... Nate Britt was just 1 of 6 shooting and finished with only four points ... It was the first meeting between the schools and the first for North Carolina in Iowa since losing to the Hawkeyes in 1989.

Northern Iowa: The Panthers were hosting a top-10 opponent for just the third time. Northern Iowa beat No. 10 Iowa 84-78 in 1997 and lost to fourth-ranked Wichita State 82-73 two years ago...The Panthers made a 3 for the 498th straight game, the longest current streak among Missouri Valley schools.


"How about waiting just a second?" Williams said as a reporter interjected with a question before he had finished his opening remarks at the postgame news conference.

"Shouldn't snap at you. I should go in there and let the kids snap at me."


Despite the loss, North Carolina has to feel good about what Jackson, a sophomore, did Saturday. He had only scored 20 points in three games before his outburst in Cedar Falls.


Northern Iowa plays at North Dakota on Nov. 28.

North Carolina faces Northwestern on Monday.

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