The Panthers went 2-0 on their most recent home stand, beating UIC 54-53 on Thursday night and taking down Valparaiso 82-60 on Saturday.
UWM improved to 9-7 for the season and 3-2 in Horizon League Play.
Thursday night’s win was capped off by a Sierra Ford-Washington short jumper to take the lead with just seven seconds left, followed by a Jenny Lindner block on UIC’s final shot to seal the victory.
“The look in our players eyes, you could see how much they wanted (this one),” Milwaukee head coach Kyle Rechlicz said. “I was really proud of how hard they played, especially in the second half. There was no quit in them, they didn’t look at the score, they just came out in the second half with this heart and this passion that we were going to find a way to win.”
Ford-Washington and Steph Kostowicz led the way offensively with 17 and 14 points respectively. Ford-Washington also grabbed six rebounds and came up with two steals. Kostowicz pulled down nine boards.
Sydney Howard was the unsung hero of the game, as she only scored three points but came up big with five rebounds and four steals while forcing other turnovers with her tenacious defense.
“Not only was she (Howard) picking up the pace on the offensive end looking for people up the court, but she was determining the pace on the defensive end,” Rechlicz said. “That’s the best defense I’ve ever seen her play. The game ball definitely goes to Sydney Howard.”
Ruvanna Campbell had a game-high 19 points to go with 15 rebounds in 39 minutes in the loss for the Flames.
Against Valparaiso on Saturday, the Panthers hit 11 of their 16 attempts from three-point territory (68.8 percent) which was good for the third-best percentage in school history. Six different players knocked down a three during the game.
Our game plan was actually to really hit the inside and go to the paint,” Rechlicz said. “But we did. We got the ball in the paint and then our posts were very smart and made good kick out passes.”
Steph Kostowicz had a huge game, pulling down 11 rebounds and posting career-highs with 20 points, six steals and five assists.
“I really think she (Kostowicz) has put four games together where she has been one of the best post players in our conference,” Rechlicz said. “She’s utilizing her strengths, her step-through moves and she’s really slowed herself down to put herself in a good position to score on the inside.”
Jenny Lindner scored 15 points, Alexis Lindstrom hit four three-pointers in the first half and finished with 14 points, and Emma Roenneburg scored a career-high 12 points.
Milwaukee had a season-high 14 steals and outrebounded the Crusaders 42-28.
Next week, UWM travels to Wright State’s Nutter Center for a 6 p.m. tip-off on Thursday.