The Milwaukee men’s basketball team lacked ample energy in their return home to the UWM Panther Arena from a five-game road trip last night and it cost them a 91-64 loss against Northern Kentucky.
Last night’s loss marks the Panthers fourth-straight loss and Milwaukee now sits at 2-6 in the Horizon League.
“Tonight was obviously not our night,” said Milwaukee head coach Pat Baldwin. “We came up against a very good opponent that obviously returned a lot of great qualities, inside and out. They dictated tempo from the very beginning, they set the tone for how they wanted to play and we couldn’t match that.”
The 27-point loss was a deficit that began early. A sluggish start did not match with the running and gunning norse.
NKU worked on Milwaukee early from both ends of the floor. The Norse went on a 6-0 run in the opening minutes before the first timeout. Hot shooting from deep and a rush for points in the paint pushed NKU’s offense to a 15-point lead, which grew from there. Meanwhile, the Panthers could not make shots or get stops to get back at NKU.
Two players scored in double-digits for the Panthers on the night, which did not include one of the Panthers leading scorers, Jeremiah Bell, who finished with nine. Milwaukee’s other leaders, Brock Stull and Brett Prahl, squeezed out 12 and 11 respectively, but their shots were heavily limited by NKU’s pressure defense.
A couple of core players were missing from the Panthers bench. Guard August Haas went down grabbing his right leg at the end of the first half and remained on the bench for the second half. Sophomore guard Jeremy Johnson missed his fourth consecutive game on Thursday due to illness.
Three players scored big for the Norse. Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Drew McDonald led with a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds. Lavone Holland almost came up with a triple-double with 19 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds. Tyler Sharpe racked up 19 points also.
“What I care about more is our fight and our effort,” said Baldwin. “This team is really good, so we have to be at the top of our game. If not, they expose you in many, many different ways. All I care about is how hard are we playing even when we’re not making our shots.”
The Panthers were down 26 by halftime. The second half was inseparable from the first, in which the Norse took the lead by as much as 30.
Milwaukee attempted a few steals and started to gain some confidence from their shooters. A couple of jump shots from Carson Warren-Newsome and Bryce Barnes, who had nine apiece, cut the lead down to 18, but the lead was too steep for a full comeback.
Too many missed shots were joined by turnovers and committed fouls, which sent the ball the other way too many times to the Norse. NKU continued to capitalize by running and scoring.
The Panthers shot 41 percent overall to NKU’s 60 percent. NKU beat out UWM in several major categories on the night, including 48-22 in points in the paint, 31-16 in bench points, and 37-23 in rebounds.
The Panthers have five home games ahead of them, which includes another tough matchup right around the corner on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against Wright State.
“All I care about is tomorrow’s practice and getting better for Wright State,” said Baldwin. “I don’t think about what’s ahead. All I care about is the next one.”