After losing to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a tense opener on Thursday night, the Milwaukee men’s basketball team earned their first victory in the Horizon League over the Detroit Mercy Titans, 87-79, on Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
“One thing we always talk about is never apologize for winning,” said Milwaukee head coach Pat Baldwin.
“I told our guys also that the team that finished up playing or ended up getting more stops was going to win this game and our guys certainly did that. I’m proud of our guys for the way they bounced back after playing against Oakland.
“Our guys were very resilient and stayed together. It felt really good to get this win.”
The Panthers shot 55 percent overall and 50 percent even from the three. Going up a bucket right before the half, 48-47, sparked the Panthers coming out the locker room in the second half, in which they led all the way after the first five minutes.
Jeremiah Bell led UWM with 18 points, adding three rebounds and three assists.
“It’s about just staying aggressive and keep attacking,” said Bell. “I just trust my teammates to find me. I trust my coaches and my teammates to put me in a position to be successful.”
Coach Baldwin added a statement on Bell’s game.
“He was extremely aggressive from the beginning,” said Baldwin. “We put in a new set to get our best scorers the ball a little bit more, and he stayed aggressive. He scored the first layup to start out the scoring for us, and that’s what we need from him. I’m very excited about the opportunities that he created for himself and for his teammates as well.”
Milwaukee showcased a full team effort, as several others followed Bell in the scoring game, including the team’s leading-scorer Brock Stull – who scored just one point less than Bell with 17 – and freshman Carson Warren-Newsome who scored 13 in 15 minutes of action.
August Haas contributed nine points and Bryce Barnes led the team in assists with four on the night.
Bryce Nze returned to action after being ejected last game against Oakland and went to work with senior forward Brett Prahl in the paint. Nze produced eight rebounds, four blocks, and three assists while Prahl had eight points and six rebounds.
The Titans fought back against Milwaukee, taking credit for half of the 24 lead changes on the night. UDM went on a 14-3 run early in the first.
Kameron Chatman led the Titans with 20 points. Five other Titans reached double-figures.
A surge from the Titans late in the second half tied the game 73-73, but it did not stay tied for long, as Milwaukee responded with free throws from Prahl and Stull.
Bell continued to produce on offense, scoring a triple that put the Panthers ahead by six and then a couple of free throws.
Effort on both ends gave UWM the win. While scoring big, Milwaukee’s defense kept the Titans below their season average of 84.3 points per game. The Panthers also held the Titans to 43 percent overall and just 30 percent from deep.
With their Horizon League record now even at 1-1, the Panthers look ahead to a five-game road trip starting on Jan. 4 in Ohio against Youngstown State. Milwaukee will not return to the Panther Arena until Jan. 18.