James Haarsma had 12 points and eight rebounds to help Evansville stun No. 25 Northern Iowa 55-54 on Tuesday night.
Evansville had lost 17 of 18 before pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the college basketball season. It was the final home game of the season for the Purple Aces, and just 4,716 showed up to watch them beat a ranked team for the first time since 2003.
Kavon Lacey scored 11 points and Colt Ryan added 10 for Evansville (8-20, 2-15 Missouri Valley).
Jake Koch scored 22 points and Adam Koch added 14 for Northern Iowa (24-4, 14-3), which had already clinched the conference title outright and was merely trying to avoid a slip-up. The Panthers were without 7-foot center Jordan Eglseder, who served the last game of a three-game suspension after being arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
A 3-pointer by Ryan gave the Purple Aces a 30-26 lead. A layup by Denver Holmes pushed Evansville's lead to six and forced Northern Iowa to call a timeout 3 minutes into the second half.
The Purple Aces kept the pressure on. Ned Cox banked in a jumper as the shot clock expired to give Evansville a 39-28 lead 6 minutes into the second half.
Jake Koch went on another scoring binge to get his team back into the game. He scored nine points during an 11-1 run, including a layup that cut Evansville's lead to 40-39.
Northern Iowa took the lead on two free throws by Kwadzo Ahelegbe, but Evansville quickly regained it on baskets by Haarsma and Lacey.
A 3-pointer by Ali Farokhmanesh cut Evansville's lead to 53-51 with 25 seconds left.
Lucas O'Rear stole the ball for Northern Iowa, but Jake Koch missed an off-balance shot in close, and Evansville got the rebound. Lacey made two free throws to make it 55-51. Northern Iowa's Johnny Moran made a 30-footer with 2 seconds left to make it 55-54, but the Panthers didn't foul until two-tenths of a second remained. Evansville missed two free throws, and time expired.
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