In a game that both teams put themselves in position to win, the Milwaukee Panthers beat the Cleveland State Vikings 59-58 in overtime Thursday at the Klotsche Center. The victory moves Milwaukee to 13-9 (7-4 Horizon) on the season.
The Panthers were led by Jenny Lindner who notched a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Steph Kostowicz also put in another strong showing, scoring 11 points and nabbing 5 rebounds. The Vikings were led by Ashanti Abshaw and Olivia Voskuhl who had 20 and 16 points respectively.
The game was the ultimate tale of two halves. Milwaukee looked to be in control heading into the half-time break. They were up 13 and outshooting the Vikings from the floor 46% to 31%. The Vikings though emerged from the locker room with something to prove. Cleveland State outscored Milwaukee 30-17 in the second stanza and held the Panthers to 19% shooting. Although ultimately losing, the Vikings looked like a much better team than their record suggests at 5-17 (2-10). UWM Coach Kyle Rechlicz reflected that sentiment.
“I think they have some of the most talent in our league,” Rechlicz said. “As they continue to put it together, they’re going to make a run in conference.”
The Vikings fought off a 16-point second half deficit to take a two-point lead with 27 seconds to play, but two free throws from Panther freshman Emma Roennenburg with 4 seconds to play sent the game to overtime.
Coming out, the Panthers played a strong overtime session led by a stifling defense. Despite only giving up 1 field goal in overtime, the Panthers still saw themselves down 4 with under a minute to play. The Panthers then cut the lead to 1 with a clutch 3-pointer by Lindner, who scored 6 of the 8 Panther points in OT. The game culminated with a game-winning runner by Sierra Ford-Washington with 7 seconds to play. That basket was her only of the game.
Despite only 2 points from Ford-Washington, and stars Steph Kostowicz and Sydney Howard fouling out, the Panthers held tough in grinding out Thursday’s victory. Milwaukee had four players over 8 points and also got 5 points from Alyssa Fischer and 4 from Roennenburg. Roennenburg specifically played a tremendous role, as she had 6 rebounds and 4 assists, 2 blocks and a steal along with her 4 points. Getting production from a wide variety of sources has Coach Rechlicz excited looking to the second half of conference play.
“We have a multitude of people that can play at different times that can step up for us,” said Rechlicz.
With Youngstown State coming in on Saturday, the Panthers will rely on their stars, as well as their supporting cast, to pick up another victory. The Panthers and Penguins tip-off at 2:00 at the Klotsche Center. The game will also air on Watch ESPN and The Big 920 AM.