ESTERO, FLA. – The Panthers fell just short Tuesday afternoon against Murray State (3-1) in the Gulf Coast Showcase at Germain Arena. Neither team was able to completely take control of the game as both teams traded the lead throughout the contest. It was Murray State that used a 7-0 run late in the game to down Milwaukee (4-2) 66-63. The Panthers just didn’t have enough time at the end of the game when Jordan Johnson’s three pointer that would have tied it up at 66 was ruled to have gone in just after the buzzer.
It was a balanced attack from the Panthers, starting with Akeem Springs scoring their first eight points, including two three-pointers, to start the game off on the right foot. Milwaukee had an early lead of 15-7 and got ahead by as many as 10 in the first half.
Behind Bryce Jones, Murray State went from nine-points down to two points up in the second half, taking a 37-35 lead before Milwaukee battled back in front 54-53 with only a few minutes remaining. With only 4:47 remaining in the game, the Racers had gone on yet another run to lead 60-54, but as the history of the game shows, Milwaukee had one more run in them.
The Panthers fought back to be within just one basket with 42 seconds of play remaining. Jones swished a pair of free throws for Murray state before Austin Arians nailed a clutch three from the left wing to bring the Panthers within one point, 64-63 with only six seconds of play remaining. Murray State hit another pair of free throws and the Panthers ran just out of time to complete their comeback.
“Those were two really good teams playing today and down the stretch they just made more plays than we did,” Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said. “I give our guys a lot of credit for battling back through adversity and we had a chance there at the end, which is all you can ask when you’re playing against a really good team. It was a game of runs and they made more plays.”
J.J. Panoske and Akeem Springs led the team with 12 points each and J.R. Lyle scored a season high 11 points off the bench.
With the loss, Milwaukee will play in the consolation bracket of the Gulf Coast Showcase against Duquesne, who lost to Pepperdine, 84-70, tomorrow at noon.