Panthers trample No. 23 Buffaloes on the road

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Courtesy Photo/UNI Athletics

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

The Panthers have been rolling through their competition so far this season, turning heads after finishing last season with a 16-18 record. Fast forward nine months, the Purple and Gold are off to a 9-1 start with a top 25 upset over Colorado under their belt.

This Monday, questions were warranted about how the Panthers would do on the road with taking on No. 23 Colorado, paired with if the amplified elevation is something that can be prepared for.

Head coach Ben Jacobson noted, “Not really.  We played at New Mexico a couple years ago, we played at Denver a couple years ago, so we’ve taken a handful of these trips where you’re playing at that altitude and there’s just not a lot you can do for it.”

The Purple and Gold started out the game with a six-point lead, but the Buffaloes quickly responded and kept the game close throughout the first half.  Both teams shot the lights out in the first half with UNI taking a 33-32 lead heading into halftime.

As the second half went under way, the Panthers got hot quick, claiming their largest lead of the game with 11 points just a couple minutes into the half gaining the 44-32 lead. 

However, with 10 minutes left the Buffaloes came back to retake a 55-53 lead. Coming down the final stretch, the game remained close with the two teams trading off the lead ten times before A.J. Green hit a clutch three-pointer with one minute left to play, tying the game at 76. As Colorado took the ball down the court, Spencer Haldeman came up with a big steal that resulted in a layup to put the UNI ahead 78-76 with 45 seconds remaining.

The Panthers were able to finish off their night with a 79-76 upset over Colorado, the Panthers first win over a ranked team since 2016.

Additionally, with basketball legend Bill Walton calling the game, the team had the coveted opportunity to meet the two-time NBA champion and former MVP.

There was plenty of quality entertainment for Panther fans, such as Walton’s fascination with Panthers, saying, “Panthers can jump 20 feet from trees.”  There were also many other memorable quotes like, “Austin Phyfe, not to be confused with Barney [Fife],” “Ben Jacobson is outstanding” and “Northern Iowa’s fantastic.” 

Up next, UNI will enjoy the heat in Phoenix, Ariz., taking on Grand Canyon University on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. on ESPN3.