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Coleman lays groundwork for Panthers' to prevail

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) -- Bucknell was an inbounds pass away from sealing one of its biggest wins of the season. Somehow, Donald Brown and the Bison threw it away.

Northern Iowa's Eric Crawford forced a second overtime with a fallaway 8-footer with .8 seconds left, and Eric Coleman followed with six of his team-high 15 points in the second overtime to lift the Panthers to a 65-61 victory over No. 24 Bucknell.

"It was a great game. The kids left it all out there," Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said. "It was the kind of game where you thought you had it, and it got away."

Bucknell, ranked in the Top 25 for the first time, appeared to have game won with 2.8 seconds left in the first OT. Up 56-54 and with possession, Bucknell tried to end the game by throwing an inbounds pass across half court.

But Brown's inbounds pass landed beyond midcourt and bounced out of bounds with no time running off the clock.

Coleman then gave Northern Iowa the lift it needed to pull off the unlikely win. Ben Jacobson added 14 points for the Panthers
(22-6), who won for the seventh straight time at home against a Top
25 opponent.

The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for Bucknell (21-4) --
its longest in 85 years.

"It was just the kind of thing where we didn't read it well,"
Flannery said of the inbounds play. "That was a miscommunication,
and they happen in the game."

Panthers guard Brooks McKowen made a heads-up play by not
touching the ball until after it went out of bounds, giving
Northern Iowa possession under its own basket.

"There were 8,442 people here tonight, and there might have
only been one that would not have grabbed that ball. And that was
Brooks McKowen," Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott said. "Do not
overlook how heady and how important that play was. It gave us a
chance to win."

Thanks in large part to Coleman, that's what the Panthers did.
He hit three baskets to help put Northern Iowa ahead 63-59. Charles
Lee brought Bucknell within 63-61 on a layup with 16 seconds left,
but John Little iced the game at the free throw line.

Ben Jacobson added 14 points for Northern Iowa and Crawford
finished with 12.

"Our defense gave us a chance," McDermott said. "I'm really
proud of my team. They didn't quit."

Northern Iowa forced overtime by rallying from a nine-point
deficit in the final 5:20 of regulation. Kevin Bettencourt looked
like he had put the game away for Bucknell by hitting a 3-pointer
that put the Bison up by four with 46 seconds left, but Grant Stout
hit a pair off free throws to bring Northern Iowa within two.

Crawford then got a steal, and Coleman followed Jacobson's miss
with a putback to tie the game at 51 with 6.7 seconds left.

Crawford was playing in just his third game since missing the
previous eight with a broken foot. He the senior said he isn't
close to 100 percent, but he has been determined to get back on the
floor and close out his career on a high note.

"My injury, at first, I thought it might be season-ending," Crawford said. "Just to be on the court is special for me, and to
be put in a situation to get a shot like that and make it is
something special."

Northern Iowa held the Bison scoreless for four minutes down the
stretch, and John Little capped an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer that
brought the Panthers within 48-47 with 1:20 left.

Lee scored 15 points and Bettencourt added 11 for the Bison, who had won 12 straight for the first time since 1921.

The loss put the Bison's Top-25 ranking -- the first for a
Patriot League team -- in jeopardy as well as their NCAA Tournament
position.

"We know we're a good basketball team," Flannery said. "Even
with rankings and all that sort of stuff, if you really knew our
program you'd know these kids play for each other."