Panthers snap skid

The Milwaukee Panthers were more than eager to put their recent subpar performances behind them, and in the first half, that was precisely what happened. With aggressiveness offensively and defensively, the Panthers built a large lead and then had to hold off a late rally to beat Wright State 68-64 at the Klotsche Center Thursday night, ending the Panthers 3-game losing streak.

With a 2-5 record in the month of January, capped off by a dismal home performance against Detroit, the Panthers knew that they needed to come out hard and strong to end the month on a high note.

“Our [players] tonight responded,” said head coach Rob Jeter after the game, “We challenged them, after our last performance…and I thought that tonight, they did that.”

In the first half, the Panthers (14-9, 4-5) set the tone almost right from the beginning with an early dunk from Kyle Kelm and another a few minutes later from Malcolm Moore, and from there, the Panthers built a large lead, with the points being shared all over on the court as the Panthers began to roll over the Raiders (13-11, 5-4), with the Panthers having 5 players in double digits scoring.

“The first 5 minutes, I thought, were really important for us, and the guys really came out and really established a tempo for us,” said Jeter.

The Panthers shot 53 percent (15-28) in the first half, holding Wright State to just 27 percent (8-29), while outscoring the Raiders in the paint 26-10, as part of a 38-23 halftime lead.

Perhaps the biggest boost for Milwaukee came from senior forward Moore, who provided twelve points off the bench in 17 minutes of play. Sharing the scoring were Kyle Kelm and Jordan Aaron, who each had thirteen, Austin Arians with twelve, and guard Steve McWhorter with ten. Matt Tiby was the only other points contributor for the Panthers with eight.

Said Moore, “When I get out there, I just want to get out there and provide some energy, and just play as hard as I possibly can. That was my goal, and I was happy it worked out tonight.”

Wright State, however, refused to yield and began to chip away in the second half, mostly on the back of sophomore forward JT Yoho, who shot 7-10 in the half and scored twenty points, while the Raiders defense began to frustrate the Panthers, who went through a drought of over 5 minutes without scoring a basket while Wright State came back to as close as two points with 12 seconds left.

“Against a team that you know is going to battle you to the end,” said Jeter, “We had to match their fight.”

Clutch free throws by Jordan Aaron and Kyle Kelm held off the Raider rally, clinching the win for the Panthers. Panthers shot 42 percent in the second half (8-19) while Wright State shot 55 percent (15-27), including 38 percent from beyond the arc (7-18), while Milwaukee shot just 20 percent (3-15). Neither team shot especially well with free throws, as the Panthers shot 67 percent (19-28) from the charity line and the Raiders shot 64 percent (11-17).

Milwaukee has a few days to rest before hosting Oakland on Sunday at 12 pm at the Klotsche Center. Panthers beat the Golden Grizzlies earlier in January, 84-75, at Oakland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *