With a 5th win in a row, the Milwaukee Panthers beat the Bradley Braves 73-67 at the Klotsche Center Saturday afternoon improving to 9-2 on the season; eclipsing last year’s win total of 8.
“It feels good, but at the same time we’re not where we need to be yet,” said Kyle Kelm, a senior for the Panthers. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
Along with Kelm, four Panthers scored in double figures against Bradley. Kelm and sophomore Austin Arians led the way with 17 points apiece.
“I just do whatever it takes to help the team win, stats don’t matter to me,” says Kelm.
Sophomore and season leader Matt Tiby finished with 15 points after fouling out with 1:50 left in the second half, while Jordan Aaron finished with 13 coming off the bench. Aaron did not start due to classroom attendance issues according to Head Coach Rob Jeter./
“He’s a student athlete and we take it serious,” said Jeter in regards to benching Aaron for the start.
Bradley seniors Walt Lemon Jr. and Tyshon Pickett each boasted 20 point performances.
The fifth meeting between Bradley and UWM in its history was a tightly contested game all the way to the end, totaling nine lead changes and six ties. The biggest lead for the Panthers was by their winning margin of 6, while the Braves led by 5 with 16:05 left in the second half.
The Panthers went to their perimeter game early as Matt Tiby and Austin Arians combined for the Panthers first 12 points all on three-pointers. Tiby initiated the attack with a three the game and Arians followed with three three-pointers in a row as the Panthers started 4-4 from beyond the arc for an early 12-6 lead.
Later, after a quick 9-2 run making it 35-33 in favor of the Braves, the Panthers found themselves down 39-36 at the half. Milwaukee struggled in the first half allowing 24 points in the paint with only 6 of their own.
That changed in the second half when the Panthers outscored Bradley 20-8 in the paint.
“You must have been in my locker room or at least right outside it,” says Jeter when asked if there was more emphasis getting the ball inside in the second half. “It’s just who we are, that’s just how we play; we have to get the ball inside and try to finish around the basket”
With the emerging inside presence, the Panthers put on their biggest run in that second half, 9-2, and took the lead 51-49 with 12:13 to go in the second half.
After trading baskets back and forth, while keeping their lead by five at 67-62, Matt Tiby fouled out of the game. The foul was not taken lightly by the UWM fan base as boo’s reigned down from the stands with a few profanities directed towards the officials. The foul led to two made free throws by Bradley junior Austin Barnes, and a 67-64 Milwaukee lead with 1:50 remaining.
After two missed three’s by each team, and a timeout with 45 seconds left, the Panthers had the ball. With the shot clock winding down, senior Jordan Aaron hit a three pointer from nearly NBA distance and put his team up 70-64 with 39 seconds remaining.
“That was a deep three,” said Jeter. “He came through like a senior should.”
After a Lemon Jr. three pointer and three straight baskets from the free-throw line for Milwaukee, the Panthers would eventually win 73-67.
Although they found a way to beat Bradley, the Panthers gave up 26 second chance points to their own 9 while losing the offensive rebounding battle 18-6.
“When we were preparing our guys for this team we told them they were very athletic and we had to do our best to keep them off of the glass,” said Jeter. In regards to the 26 second chance points, “Boy, it’s just a glaring number as I look down at the stat sheet.”
The Panthers will now head to Madison Wednesday to take on the No. 8 ranked Badgers who have yet to lose a game this season.
“The thing that is scary when you look at that Wisconsin team is that they can make shots, I mean they can shoot, all five guys can shoot,” says Jeter. “Obviously in the Kohl Center there is a mystique and magic there, but we’re going to show up, 9-2 ready to play, and have some fun.”