Despite another 23-point performance from Brock Stull, the Panthers couldn’t pull off the win against Western Michigan in their final nonconference game of the season last night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
“First, I’m disappointed in midway through the game how we let a lead slip away,” said Milwaukee head coach Pat Baldwin.
“I knew that we had a Western Michigan team that would come here and they would be trying to fight and play as hard as they can, particularly after the game that they played against Idaho, so we knew that we would have to withstand the storm and some pressure from them.”
The Broncos were led by Thomas Wilder with 16 points. Brandon Johnson followed with 14 points.
WMU had the offensive edge right away, leading most of the way in the first. The Panthers trailed by double-digits.
The Panthers gained some confidence toward halftime after a couple jumpers by Bryce Barnes and a triple by August Haas.
The Panthers gained their first lead in the second half by five. Milwaukee came out of the locker room with a different offensive intensity.
“We fought our way back to be down 29-25 at halftime and I thought we were in a pretty good position to start the second half,” said Baldwin. “I wanted to try to establish ourselves inside and try to win right away at the start of the second half.”
Several players stepped up for the Panthers to make plays. Stull scored more than half of his 23 points in the second half.
Jeremiah Bell, the only other player on UWM to reach double-digits, gave the Panthers a huge lift in the second half. Bell went on an offensive clinic from all over the floor. Three of Milwaukee’s four triples late in the half came from Bell, which tied the game. Bell finished with 14 points.
Milwaukee ultimately could not catch up to WMU’s offense that produced an 18-3 run. The Panthers scrambled to commit fouls. Jeremy Johnson took a final shot from the perimeter, which would have sent the game to overtime, but the shot clock ran out.
Last night’s loss puts the Panthers at 7-6 on the season before conference play, which begins on Thursday at the Panther Arena in a matchup against the Oakland Grizzlies.
“I wish I could say we’re 13-0,” said Baldwin.
“I think we have a tough team, but we can go a number of different ways depending upon the game. Our inside game is showing us and proving to us that we can go in there and go inside. I think at times we’ve shown that we can rely on our perimeter game as well from the standpoint of making the shots we need to and getting to where we are.
“We’ve played a really tough nonconference schedule. Most of the teams we’ve played, they have an opportunity to win their league or be in the running. At this point, our guys can take solace in the fact that we’ve played some really good teams and beaten some teams during that stretch.
“Now, you can throw our nonconference schedule, wins and losses, out the window. It’s 0-0 and it’s a new ballgame once we get started back after Christmas.”