The University of Northern Iowa Panthers used a strong second- half defensive performance to earn a 56-44 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the third annual Hy-Vee Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

UNI held Iowa to 15 points and 3-for-24 shooting (12.5 percent) in the second half. UNI blocked six Iowa shots in the second half and the Hawkeyes turned the ball over 10 times in the final 20 minutes.

Paul Jesperson was one of 10 Panthers to score in the contest as he led the balanced UNI scoring attack with a team-high 10 points.

The Panthers led 20-18 with 6:06 remaining in the first half before Iowa went on a 8-0 run to give Iowa its largest lead of the game, 26-20. The Panthers went scoreless until Jesperson’s three-pointer with 1:37 left cut the Hawkeye lead to 26-23.

The Hawkeyes led 29-23 at half paced by Aaron White’s seven first half points. Six different Hawkeyes scored in the first-half as the Hawks knocked down three of five three-pointers. The Panthers were paced by Jesperson’s six first half points. The Panther bench accounted for 17 of the Panthers 23 first-half points.

The Panthers opened the second half on a 16-3 run to take a 39-32 at the 11:33 mark. The Hawkeyes started the second half 1-11 from the field along with five turnovers. Iowa would get as close as six points at 49-43, but UNI was able to close out the Hawks, 56-44.

UNI moved to 10-1 on the season, while Iowa fell to 8-4 overall. The win marked the sixth time under Head Coach Ben Jacobson the Panthers have beaten a Big Ten Conference opponent -- the most victories by any team outside the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC)  against the league.

The Panthers return to action on Sun., Dec. 28, at home against South Dakota State.


  • The Panthers have won seven of the last 13 meetings against the Hawkeyes and improve to 2-1 all-time in the Big Four Classic.
  • The Panthers improve to 3-0 in neutral site games this season.
  • UNI coach Ben Jacobson is 4-4 all-time against the Hawkeyes.
  • This marks the 33rd time in the Jacobson era the Panthers have held an opponent under 50 points.