Northern Iowa beats Washington State in Diamond Head Classic

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HONOLULU (AP) — After being on the wrong side of a 16-point loss less than 24 hours earlier, Northern Iowa was chomping at the bit to take the floor again Wednesday night.

Paul Jesperson scored 18 points, Wes Washpun had 16 and Jeremy Morgan added 14 to help Northern Iowa beat Washington State 63-59 in a consolation semifinal of the Diamond Head Classic Wednesday night.

The Panthers (8-4) avoided their first back-to-back losses of the season despite being outrebounded 31-20. They bounced back from a 16-point loss to tournament-host Hawaii in Tuesday's opening round.

"I think the guys were eager to come back, just because Hawaii forced us into some mistakes," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. "I think they were eager to get back out here and you don't have very many short turnarounds so it can impact guys in different ways, but I thought all our guys that played, played pretty well."

Washpun, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference player of the week, had team-highs of five rebounds and four assists for Northern Iowa, which made 19 of its 23 free throws.

"He had a tough game (Tuesday)," Jesperson said of Washpun. "Hawaii is good. They put a lot of pressure on him and made it tough for him and I thought he really came back with a good demeanor today and his pace was really good. He was able to get to the rim and get some baskets."

Jesperson, Morgan and Klint Carlson combined to make 14 of 14 from the charity stripe.

Josh Hawkinson scored 14 points, Ike Iroegbu 12 and Derrien King 10 for Washington State (7-4), which was just 4 of 5 from the free-throw line. Hawkinson also had 13 rebounds.

"It is disheartening because we did a lot of things right; we shot the ball well, we rebounded the ball well, I thought we defended one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country well — giving up only four 3s — but the thing we didn't do well was take care of the ball," Cougars coach Ernie Kent said. "We had 19 turnovers and gave up 15 points off those turnovers."

There were 10 ties and 19 lead changes.

The Cougars led by as many as six early in the second half following a Hawkinson 10-foot jumper that capped a 6-0 run. The Panthers stormed back with a 9-2 run, ignited by a Morgan dunk and culminated with a Jesperson banker to reclaim the lead at 44-43.

Washington State's last lead was 53-52 following a 3-pointer by Que Johnson with about four minutes left.

Washpun hit a pair of free throws on Northern Iowa's ensuing possession, which started an 8-2 run to stretch its lead to 60-55 with 1:39 remaining.

Iroegbu drove for a layup with 5.1 seconds left to make it a three-point game at 62-59, but Washpun drew a foul and made the first of two free throws to seal it.

Washington State shot 49 percent (24 of 49) from the field compared to 42.6 percent (20 of 47) for Northern Iowa.

It was the first meeting between the schools.



Washington State: The Cougars committed 19 turnovers, which led to 15 Northern Iowa points.

Northern Iowa: Matt Bohannon, the Panthers' career leader in 3-pointers made, had his streak of 21 consecutive games with a made 3-pointer snapped in the win.


Northern Iowa will complete a stretch of seven games away from home following the final day of the tournament on Christmas day. The Panthers last home game was against North Texas on Nov. 30. Since then, they have played games at Richmond, George Mason, New Mexico and Iowa State before traveling to Hawaii. They will host Bradley in their conference opener on Dec. 30.


Washington State will play New Mexico in the seventh-place game Friday.

Northern Iowa will face BYU for fifth place Friday.

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