BOULDER, Colo. – Spencer Haldeman stole a pass and raced down the floor for a tiebreaking layup with 49 seconds remaining and Northern Iowa hung on to beat No. 24 Colorado 79-76 Tuesday night.
Northern Iowa defeated a ranked team for the first time since topping No. 25 Wichita State 53-50 on Feb. 13, 2016. The Panthers had lost their previous seven encounters against ranked opponents.
AJ Green and Trae Berhow had 20 points apiece to lead Northern Iowa (9-1), which has won three consecutive games since losing to West Virginia 60-55.
Berhow and Green each hit five 3-pointers. Green’s last 3 with 1:10 left to play evened the score at 76-all after Colorado (7-2) had taken a 76-73 lead on a layup by McKinley Wright IV.
Haldeman then stepped in front of Wright’s pass and broke away for the go-ahead basket. After Green added a free throw, Colorado’s Shane Gatling and Lucas Siewert both missed tying 3-point tries in the final seconds.
Siewert scored a career-high 21 points to lead Colorado (7-2), which lost a second straight after opening the season with seven consecutive wins. Wright finished with 16 points.
Leading by a point at the break, the Panthers went on an 11-0 run to start the second half. The Buffaloes got back in the game with a 9-0 burst.
Evan Battey converted a three-point play to put the Buffaloes up 62-60 with 6:41 remaining, but Green and Berhow connected on 3-pointers.
The Panthers led by five points after a layup by Justin Dahl with 3:10 remaining but Wright hit a 3-pointer and Battey muscled in a layup, was fouled and made the free throw as part of 8-0 run that put the Buffaloes in front 76-73 with 1:39 left.
The Buffaloes went without a field goal in the last 5:44 of the first half and Wright hit a jumper that gave Colorado a 30-23 lead. Earlier in the period, Siewert hit 15 consecutive points for the Buffaloes to help Colorado take an early lead.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers, prolific 3-point shooters, made better than half of their shots from beyond the arc (14 of 26) and that was enough to fend off a Colorado team that had leaned on its defense to get off to a solid start.
Colorado: The Buffaloes hallmark early this season has been defense but they let down on the perimeter, leaving themselves vulnerable to Northern Iowa’s prolific 3-point shooters.
Northern Iowa: Continues road trip at Grand Canyon on Thursday night.
Colorado: Takes on rival Colorado State in Fort Collins on Friday night.