Six Years Ago UNI’s Paul Jesperson Hit a Historic Half-Court Heave
For the longest time, the UNI men's basketball program was known as the team that took down the No. 1 overall seed in 2010, the Kansas Jayhawks.
Ali Farohkmanesh was the king of March Madness, and his name went down in history after burying a three with 36 seconds left, giving UNI a four-point lead. The famed "You can't be serious with that shot!" call from the CBS crew lives in every Panther fan's memory.
This photo of Farohkmanesh donned the cover of Sports Illustrated:
I mean, that team won a freaking ESPY:
For most mid-major basketball programs, that'd be their 15 minutes of fame. Sure, the Panthers had a great moment and made it to the Sweet 16 -- they might win a few more Missouri Valley championships and make a few more NCAA Tournaments, but Coach Ben Jacobson would move on to a larger school, UNI would once again be an average team, and that'd be it. We'd all enjoy the moment and move on with our lives.
Not only did Coach Jake stick around, but the Panthers also had six straight winning seasons, went 31-4 in 2014-2015 with Seth Tuttle winning MVC Player of the Year (they were also a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament that season), and upset the No. 1 team on their home floor in the fall of the 2015-2016 season.
That 2015-2016 crew put together a phenomenal end of the season, too.
After starting conference play 2-6, the Panthers drastically turned their season around, winning nine of their final ten regular-season games and coming out of the conference tournament victorious on a last-second shot by senior leader and point guard Wes Washpun:
After earning their bid to The Big Dance, UNI matched up with a traditionally strong basketball program, the Texas Longhorns.
In a 6 vs. 11 matchup, Texas was heavily favored. UNI started hot though, taking a 44-36 lead into halftime. Jeremy Morgan put up 12 to lead the Panthers in the first half and was followed by Washpun and fellow senior Paul Jesperson with eight points.
The Longhorns made things interesting in the following 20 minutes, 55-50 lead with 11:43 to go. UNI battled back, tying things up and taking the lead back around the eight-minute mark.
The remainder of the contest would be a back-and-forth affair, with both teams exchanging the lead. With 29 seconds to go, Klint Karlson made a jumper that gave the Panthers a 71-70 advantage, UNI would get the ball back and send Wes Washpun to the free-throw line with just 11 seconds remaining. He made one of two to give the purple and gold a two-point lead.
Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor attacked the rim, tying things up at 72 with just three seconds remaining. By just about every sports fans' account, it'd be safe to say we were headed to overtime. Paul Jesperson is not every sports fan.
See for yourself:
And yet again, the UNI basketball program got a few more iconic images: