Following a victory in their opening matchup against Northern Kentucky, the Milwaukee men’s basketball team were unable to string together a magical run in the Horizon League tournament, falling to Green Bay, 70-61 Sunday afternoon.
Both teams began the game ice cold, combining to make just two of their first 17 combined attempts from the floor by the first media timeout stoppage, as the game was tied at just 2-2 at the 15:13 mark.
Rob Jeter highlighted the forgettable shooting night Milwaukee had from the floor as reason for the loss. The team finished at 30.5 percent (18-of-59) for the day after a first half where they finished less than 25 percent.
“We picked the wrong time to have a poor shooting night,” Head Coach Rob Jeter said. “Some of that has to do with the defense they played, but we also had some real good opportunities.”
Following the drought by both teams, the ball soon began to fall. Milwaukee ripped off a 9-0 stretch to overcome a span of six minutes without a made field goal. The Phoenix answered, pulling out to a 17-13 edge only to have Akeem Springs knot it up with 6:29 in the half. The Phoenix would respond by sketching up a 14-3 run that saw them score eight in a row.
Despite the strong clamps from Green Bay, the Panthers found themselves only down by six at intermission.
Things finally began to cook for the Panthers late in the second half. Overcoming the stifling defense by Green Bay, six consecutive points from point guard Jordan Johnson saw the Panthers hold a 52-46 lead with a little over than eight minutes to play.
Green Bay then began to get things going on a decisive scoring run, led by Carrington Love, the leading scorer for the Phoenix. Love scored or assisted nine consecutive points that gave Green Bay the commanding lead down the stretch.
“When you hear the cliché that basketball is a game of runs, that is what happened today,” said Jeter. “There was some good basketball played. We put together a run that put us ahead by six with about seven minutes to go and it was a barrage after that.”
Milwaukee responded to the Green Bay run by creating a run of their own, narrowing the lead to three at 60-57 with 2:10 on a three-pointer from Matt Tiby. However, Green Bay ignited themselves at the free throw line in the closing minutes, going 10-of-14 from the charity stripe to secure the win.
“The ball bounces funny some times,” said Jeter. “We had the momentum. It was that barrage that really put us back on our heels. We cut it to three. From there it was about getting a stop, getting a rebound and they kept coming at us.”
Jordan Johnson scored a team-high 18 points for the Panthers. Akeem Springs added 10 of his 12 points in the second half, finishing a rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards.
Milwaukee’s run in the conference tournament may have come to an end, but the possibility of playing in another postseason tournament exists, with options such as the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and the CBI still available.
“I would love to,” said Jeter in regards to playing in the postseason. “I know it’s a postseason team. The team has played well, we have some big wins. We would definitely love to keep playing.”