The UNI Panthers made history by upsetting the No. 5 Iowa State Cyclones, 81-79, at the Big Four Classic in Des Moines Saturday night (Dec. 19, 2015).

For the first time in the same season, the Panthers (7-3) have defeated two opponents ranked among the nation's top five. They also stunned then-No. 1 North Carolina, 71-67, at home last month.

UNI blistered the nets, shooting 58 percent from the floor and 59.1 percent from 3-point range. In the first-half, the Panthers shot 65.4 percent from the field and and 61.5 percent from behind the arc.

Wes Washpun led the offensive charge, scoring a career-high 28 points with 11 assists. He was perfect in the first half, scoring 17 points on 6-for-6 shooting and making both free throw attempts. He ended the game with a team-high seven rebounds.

Paul Jesperson also had a career night for the Panthers, adding 21 points on seven 3-pointers.

UNI led the game most of the way, building an 11-point edge at 41-30 with 4:36 left in the first half.

Despite the Panthers' hot shooting, Iowa State (9-1) was able to cut the margin to 46-37 by halftime.

UNI kept its comfortable lead for a while in the second half, but the Cyclones pulled even at 66 on Jameel McKay's dunk with 7:20 left. Jesperson answered with consecutive 3s, and Matt Bohannon's 3 made it 78-73 with 2:40 to go.

Iowa State had opportunities down the stretch. But unlike when the Cyclones rallied from 20 down to stun Iowa 83-82 last week, they fell just a few plays short of another huge comeback win.

Georges Niang made it 80-79 on free throws with 20 seconds left, and Iowa State forced a subsequent turnover. Niang slipped, however, giving the Panthers the ball back. Washpun then hit a free throw and Monte Morris missed a floater for Iowa State at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.

(Courtesy: UNI Athletics via YouTube)

Niang scored 30 points for the Cyclones, who fell just shy of their second double-digit comeback in three games. Jameel McKay had 18 points and Abdel Nader scored 14 for Iowa State.

UNI is now 3-2 in its past five games against Associated Press Top 5 opponents.

A Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) team has beaten two top-5 (AP poll) non-conference teams in the same season just five times in its 109-year history. Counting UNI’s two wins this year over No. 1 North Carolina and No. 5 Iowa State (the Cyclones are ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll), the league has 30 wins all-time against non-conference top-5 teams.

The Panthers are the first MVC team to win two such regular-season games in the span of a month, having beaten the Tar Heels on Nov. 21.

The last MVC team to beat two Top-5 non-conference teams in the same season (AP poll) was Wichita State in 1965-66, and in the five times it has happened, only three times have both games been during the regular season.

In the early game, the Iowa Hawkeyes defeated the Drake Bulldogs, 70-64.  The Hawkeyes (8-3) had four players score in double figures, led by Mike Gesell's season-best 17 points.


(Courtesy of UNI Athletics via YouTube)