Panthers Unable To Capitalize

The Milwaukee Panthers had every chance to capitalize on opportunities Saturday night at U.S Cellular Arena. The Panthers had come off a huge upset win over archrival and 1st place-sitting Green Bay, and had a chance to gain a tie for 3rd place facing Valparasio. In the end, the Panthers were unable to carry any momentum and fell to the Crusaders 77-62.

The Panthers (16-10, 6-6) started off well enough, scoring the first four points of the game, but Valparasio (16-11, 8-4) scored the next seven points and never lost the lead after that. Valpo was led by senior LaVonte Dority, who shot 5-8 in the second half and scored 19 points, and was helped by senior Jordan Coleman, who was a perfect 5-5 shooting from the field, scoring 14 points off the bench with 11 rebounds.

“We just didn’t have an answer for Dority,” said coach Rob Jeter after the game. “When he decided to put it on the deck, there was no answer for that.”

For Milwaukee, their offense could never get going, despite a standout performance from Kyle Kelm, who scored 24 points on 8-13 shooting, and also got 14 points and 8 rebounds from Matt Tiby. Beyond that, however, the Panthers were unable to get any shots to go in, shooting only 19-60 from the field (31%), with a dismal 3-29 beyond the arc, with Austin Arians shooting an atrocious 1-12. Steve McWhorter shot cold as well, going 1-12 from the field. The Panthers also slipped at the foul line, going 21-31 (61%) on free throws.

“I thought that every mistake we made, Valpo capitalized,” said Jeter. Compared to the Panthers, the Crusaders had a much better night, shooting 51% (25-49) from the field, and 81% from the line (22-27).

It didn’t help the Panthers either that Jordan Aaron, who had been averaging 22 points a game over the previous three games, was suspended before game time due to breaking team rules, though Rob Jeter wouldn’t go into details as to why he was suspended.

“Violation of team rules,” was all that Jeter said, “We hold our guys accountable…When they violate [rules], there’s consequences.”

Senior Thierno Niang started in place of Aaron, and scored 6 points in the first half, leading the Panthers, but ran into foul trouble in the 2nd half and didn’t score again.

The Panthers tried to rally in the second half, getting to within two points with 12:50 left in the game on a Malcom Moore 3-pointer, but Valpo scored the next 8 points to gain a 10-point lead and the Panthers were unable to come back again.

“We can always do better as a team,” said Kyle Kelm after the game, “and that’s what we have to do from here on out.”

The Panthers are on the road for the next two games, taking on Youngstown State next Thursday, and then Cleveland State next Saturday.


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