Steph Kostowicz’s clutch play down the stretch was key in securing an exhilarating victory for the Milwaukee women’s basketball team as they defeated Youngstown State, 86-82 Thursday night at the Klotsche Center.
Kostowicz went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:15 of the game, providing the final cushioning needed for the Panthers.
It was a hot shooting night for both teams. Youngstown State put together a 56.4 percent conversion rate, including 13 three-pointers. However, that performance did not rattle the Panthers, who instead responded with a shooting clinic of their own, going 55.2 percent from the floor.
“Two high-scoring teams coming together, you’re not always going to see a lot of defense in those games,” said Head Coach Kyle Rechlicz. “We knew this was going to be a really tough game. Coming off the week at Michigan, we were wondering where our confidence was going to be.”
Their confidence ended up being right where it needed to be.
With just over a minute remaining in the game, Youngstown State converted on a 3-pointer, knotting the action back up at 82-82. On the ensuing possession, Kostowicz was able to create contact and sank both of her free throws, providing a two-point lead for the Panthers with just 45 seconds to go.
Defense also proved to be an ingredient towards the victory. Following Kostowicz’s two free throws, the Panthers came up with the necessary stop and again sent their team leader to the free throw line to add on to the lead.
Rechlicz noted her team’s aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball as an area to build off of moving forward.
“Just replaying the game in my mind, I thought this was the best job we’ve done boxing out — probably since I’ve been here,” Rechlicz said. “We were consistently putting bodies on people and going to get the ball.”
Kostowicz led all players with a game-high 22 points. Kelsey Cunningham made her presence known off the bench, contributing with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Jenny Lindner also had her fingerprints all over the box score, finishing one rebound shy of her fifth double-double of the season. She finished with 17 points and nine rebounds along with three assists. The junior also reeled in rebound No. 500 for her career. She is now just the 13th Panther to score 1,000 career points and grab 500 career rebounds.
Despite the tight score throughout the game, the Panthers only trailed for a bare 32 seconds.
The Milwaukee women’s basketball team returns to action this Saturday at 2 p.m. It is a rematch of the game two weeks ago where the Panthers won on a buzzer-beater. Saturday is also Alumni Day for the Panthers and the team will also be donning special jerseys for the annual Pink Out game.