AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Jermaine Wallace might’ve had the worst view of the swish seen ’round the nation.
Stuck in the corner with time running out, all Wallace could do was heave, hope and watch.
As he fell below the baseline, his fadeaway 3-pointer was good with a split second left and little Northwestern State pulled off a shocker, rallying past Iowa 64-63 Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“I actually saw it go in through the back of the glass,” Wallace said. “I can’t believe this.”
Neither could the third-seeded Hawkeyes.
Down by 17 with 8½ minutes left, the 14th-seeded Demons from Natchitoches, La., stormed back to knock off the Big Ten tournament champions with swarming defense and clutch shooting.
“I’d like to say I had it all drawn up, but we were just trying to get the guys in the game who could create havoc on defense and score on offense,” said Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy, who shuffled 11 players on and off the court.
Hawkeyes star Greg Brunner made one of two foul shots with 14.6 seconds left for a 63-61 lead. The Demons came down court, missed a shot and Wallace corralled the rebound.
Wallace turned and, as he falling out of bounds, scored with five-tenths of a second left.
“I chased it down and looked at the clock,” he said. “I knew I had a chance for one or two dribbles, so I shot it and fell.”
After Wallace made the shot that will be replayed for years, he tore off his jersey — a la Brandi Chastain — as his teammates hollered and hugged all over the court.
Under the net where Wallace’s shot cleanly fell, Brunner was on his back with his jersey pulled over his face.
“A senior shouldn’t miss that shot, but I did,” Brunner said.
The Demons (26-7) will face West Virginia in the second round of the Atlanta regional on Sunday.
Iowa (25-9) finished No. 15 in the final regular-season rankings, and will spend the next weeks and perhaps months wondering if coach Steve Alford — a former Indiana star — will leave to replace the resigning Mike Davis and lead the Hoosiers.
Shortly after the Hawkeyes’ second straight first-round exit, Alford was asked if he will be Iowa’s coach next season.
“We’re two minutes after the game,” he responded. “My focus and concern hasn’t changed. We’ve gone 7-3 during this stretch (since the rumors started). These kids have been extremely focused, and my concern is to try to lead them.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Northwestern State went into the game cocky because of previous results against schools from major conferences.
The Southland Conference champs won at Mississippi State and Oklahoma State and beat Oregon State on a neutral court during the regular season. They also were competitive in losses to NCAA tournament teams Wichita State, Texas A&M and Utah State.
They were confident despite being in the NCAA tournament for just the second time. In 2001, the Demons won a play-in game to get into the field of 64.
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