UNI rallies from 18 down to win in OT
By BILL FAY
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Klint Carlson scored 22 points and ignited a second-half rally that carried Northern Iowa to a 73-67 overtime win over Oklahoma on Friday night in the winner’s bracket of the Tire Pros Invitational.
Jeremy Morgan scored 17 points, had seven steals and four blocks and Jordan Ashton had 13 for the Panthers (3-0), who rallied from an 18-point second half deficit to win.
Jordan Woodard and Kristian Doolittle had 13 points apiece for Oklahoma (2-1), which had only one field goal in the final 11 minutes of regulation. Khadeem Lattin and Rashard Odomes contributed 11 points each.
“We accomplished a lot tonight with the way the guys stuck with it,” Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. “Everything had to go our way for us to have a chance. It was fun to see the guys get rewarded for making a couple of shots and making a game out of it “
Carlson, who had 18 points in the last six minutes of regulation and overtime, nailed a 3-pointer from straight on to break a 64-all tie with 42.9 seconds left in overtime.
“I guess I was feeling it,” Carlson said. “I don’t even remember how many shots I took, but at that point, I was just glad they were going in.”
The Panthers added two free throws to go ahead 69-64 before Woodard nailed a 3-pointer to make it a 69-67 game with 8.8 seconds to go.
Morgan iced the game with four free throws in the final six seconds.
UNI made five 3-pointers during a 26-5 run that erased an 18-point deficit in the second half. Carlson made three of the bombs, including the one that put UNI ahead 57-54 with 52 seconds left in the game.
“We didn’t handle that run very well,” Oklahoma coach Lon Krueger said. “But as disappointing as this is, there was a lot to learn from this. Turnovers, value possessions, finish plays strong, those are all things we’ll get better at.”
The Panthers pushed the edge to 59-54 with 27 seconds left in regulation before Sooners’ forward Khadeem Lattin made two free throws and Doolittle hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds left.
Ashton was off with a 3-pointer to win the game for UNI at the buzzer.
Oklahoma will love what it saw from the first 30 minutes. The Sooners used their size and strength advantage to build an 18-point advantage and looked like they would coast to an easy win. “Lot of really good things at both ends of the floor in the first 30 minutes,” Krueger said. “Lot of bad things the last 15.”
The takeaway for Jacobson is that his team has a lot of heart. The Panthers were getting beat every which way, but still fought for every possession and were rewarded. “We kept playing defense and rebounding when our offense was not very good and I like that,” Jacobson said. “And the other thing I like was that a relatively new group believed we could get all the way back.”
Northern Iowa committed five turnovers and hit only three of its first 15 shots against Oklahoma. The Panthers shot 25.9 percent (7 of 27) for the first half, trailing 31-18. UNI came into the game shooting 51.8 percent and averaging just 11.5 turnovers a game.
Northern Iowa plays Xavier Sunday night in the championship game of the tournament.
Oklahoma will take on Clemson for third-place Sunday afternoon.