SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – The Panthers claimed the Cable Car Classic championship on Sunday afternoon with a 71-65 victory over host school Santa Clara. Milwaukee is now 3-0 on the young season.
Coach Rob Jeter commended his team’s ability to weather an early storm and stick to the gameplan.
“We battled through some adversity today with early foul trouble but got back to Milwaukee basketball – getting the ball inside – so that was good to see,” Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said. “Akeem (Springs) came up big for us today and everyone really contributed all weekend.”
Springs sure was the star of the game, as he scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. However, junior Austin Arians, who spent last season injured, was named the MVP of the tournament. Arians scored 14 second-half points to help the Panthers rally.
Milwaukee went ahead by four early in the first half, but the Broncos went on a torrid run to take a 32-21 lead before the Panthers scored the final five points of the half to cut the lead to six. Santa Clara shot 57.9 percent from the field in the opening frame.
It was the Panthers who had the hot hands in the second half, as the team shot 55.6 percent. Milwaukee tied the game at 39 after senior forward J.J. Panoske nailed a three, but the Broncos were able to push the lead to six. That’s when the Panthers took off on a 21-5 run that was started by an Arians three. Milwaukee had a 64-54 lead with two minutes to play following the spurt, and held on from there.
Junior college transfer Jordan Johnson led the team with five assists. The Panthers continue play on the road on Tuesday at 6 p.m. when they travel to Notre Dame, a team that lost to Kentucky by a basket in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season.