- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - No exhilarating comeback this time. No. 5 Iowa State was unable to climb out of another hole against a Northern Iowa team that’s proven it can beat just about anyone.

Wes Washpun set career highs with 28 points and 11 assists as Northern Iowa upset fifth-ranked Iowa State 81-79 Saturday night for its second win over a top-five opponent this season.

Paul Jesperson added a career-high 21 points on seven 3-pointers for the Panthers (7-3), who also stunned then-No. 1 North Carolina 71-67 at home last month.

“We’ll get better from it. We’re a third of the way through the season. We’re 9-1. It’s a process. We can’t be in peaks and valleys because of one game. That’s my philosophy. That’s always been my philosophy,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.

Georges Niang cut Iowa State’s deficit to 80-79 on free throws with 20 seconds left, and the Cyclones (9-1) forced a subsequent turnover.

Niang slipped, though, giving the Panthers the ball back. Washpun hit a free throw and Monte Morris missed a floater at the buzzer.

It was Morris’ basket that capped a 20-point rally in a win over Iowa last week.

Niang scored 30 points for the Cyclones, who fell just shy of their second double-digit comeback in three games.

“Coach drew up play to get me isolated. It was a good play. I lost my footing and tripped and fell,” Niang said.

Iowa State wasn’t about to overlook the Panthers after watching them knock off the Tar Heels. Washpun and the Panthers simply couldn’t miss in the first 15 minutes.

Northern Iowa hit 13 of its first 17 shots, going 7 of 9 from 3-point range. Washpun made his first six shots and had 17 points, six assists and three rebounds in the first half.

Still, the Cyclones were able to cut it to 46-37 by halftime.

Iowa State pulled even at 66 on Jameel McKay’s dunk with 7:20 left. Jesperson answered with consecutive 3s, and Matt Bohannon’s 3 made it 78-73 with 2:40 to go.

McKay had 18 points and Abdel Nader scored 14 for Iowa State, which let the Panthers hit 13 of their 22 attempts from 3-point range.

“Obviously, it wasn’t acceptable. That’s something we’re working on and we’ll adjust. Obviously we can’t let a team shoot 58 percent from the field and expect to win,” Niang said.

QUOTABLE

“We played these guys a couple of years ago and felt like we let one get away there. The guys who played in that decided we weren’t going to let that happen again,” Washpun said.

TIP-INS

Northern Iowa: The Panthers led by 18 in their last meeting with Iowa State two years ago but lost 91-82 in overtime. … Jesperson was 4 of 4 on 3s in the first half. … Northern Iowa lost 33 of its first 38 meetings with Iowa State.

Iowa State: The Cyclones had only four assists on 16 baskets in the first half. … It was a neutral-court matchup, but the crowd clearly leaned toward Iowa State - whose campus is only about 35 miles from Des Moines. … Deonte Burton scored seven points in his Cyclones debut.

STAT LINES

Morris had one of his worst games in recent memory - though it was still a decent outing. He was 3 of 10 from the floor, including that miss at the buzzer, but still finished with eight points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals and no turnovers.

UP NEXT

Northern Iowa plays at Hawaii on Wednesday.

Iowa State plays at No. 23 Cincinnati on Tuesday.

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