The Milwaukee men’s basketball team pulled off an incredible comeback Sunday vs. the Elon Phoenix, winning in the final seconds of the game, 72-71.
To start the game, Elon struck first from deep three-point range. Milwaukee’s defense struggled early, forcing them to sub-in Bryce Barnes and Vance Johnson in the first several minutes of the contest. The Phoenix continued to connect from deep, and the Panthers could not do much to stop it.
Milwaukee began to get a bit of offense going with Bryce Nze working his way around the basket. The Panthers managed to get themselves into some foul trouble early on, leading to easy scoring opportunities for Elon. Jeremiah Bell brought a burst of energy off the bench, capitalizing on two consecutive three-point attempts. That energetic play was short lived in the first half, as the Phoenix were firing on all cylinders, especially from beyond the arc. The referees seemed to be calling literally everything in sight, which hurt Milwaukee down the stretch.
Extremely poor shooting for the Panthers was key in their first half woes, as they shot an underwhelming 13 percent from downtown. Meanwhile, Elon converted on 67 percent of their three-point attempts. The Phoenix began to pull away, and Milwaukee had no answer. Elon led 46-29 at the break.
A different team came out of that locker room for the Panthers heading into the second half. It was a team that would not back down. Brock Stull opened the floodgates with a shot from three-point land to open the half, helping him become very comfortable on the offensive side of the ball.
Elon committed several fouls in the early minutes of the half, causing even more of a momentum shift in favor of Milwaukee. The scoring gap started to close. The Panthers clamped down defensively, which led to some strong scoring possessions. Bryce Barnes played some gritty defense, hitting the floor for a steal. He dished it to Nze who found August Haas under the bucket for two. Stull continued to do everything he could to keep Milwaukee in tight with the Phoenix. Elon still would not back down, as both teams were scoring back and forth.
The Panthers battled back, and cut the deficit to seven with 5:59 left in regulation, down 69-62. Nze grabbed a Phoenix pass out of the air, and made his way down the court for a slam, putting the Panthers within four. Stull then found Haas wide open in the corner, and he connected for three points.
The tenacious Panthers defense held strong, forcing a shot clock violation on Elon. Barnes split the pair of free throws from the line, slicing the Phoenix lead to just one. A determined Milwaukee team forced another turnover.
With 8.5 seconds to go in the game, the Panthers with possession, Jeremiah Bell missed a long jumper, but Jeremy Johnson was there for the board and put-back, putting Milwaukee up 72-71 with .9 seconds left on the clock. It was enough time for an Elon heave down court, but they could not find the bottom of the net. At one point down 19, the Panthers managed to come back and win, claiming the title of Black & Gold Shootout Champions. The battle back was led by Brock Stull, scoring 16 of his 21 points in the second half.
During the postgame presser when asked about the team’s determination and grit, Coach Baldwin expressed what his team’s mentality meant to him.
“I love it,” said Baldwin. “I’m almost at a loss for words. I’m starting to learn our guys during tough times, that they have a quiet confidence about them.”
Milwaukee has to prepare for a big game at the end of this Thanksgiving week against a very solid Wisconsin Badgers team. The 4-1 Panthers will make the short trek to the Kohl Center for Friday night’s 8 p.m. contest.