The 3rd Man In

McWhorter leads Milwaukee past Minnesota-Crookston

Steve McWhorter scored a team-high 17 points, as the Milwaukee Panthers (1-1) were able to beat Minnesota-Crookston (0-3) 75-54 on Monday evening in their home opener at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

“It was good to be back home,” Milwaukee Panthers head coach Rob Jeter said. “Tonight was a challenge for us to come back after playing Auburn, and to play a team with a completely different style.”

Both teams got of to an incredibly slow start in the in the first half. After nearly six minutes of play, both teams were tied 5-5, as the Panthers shot only 25 percent from the field compared to the Golden Eagles 14.3 percent.

With 8:45 left in the first half the Panthers trailed the Golden Eagles 15-12. But, Milwaukee was able to heat up from three-point range, making three consecutive threes, as McWhorter made one while Cody Wichmann hit two, putting the Panthers ahead 21-15.

McWhorter then stepped to the free throw line and drained a pair of foul shots with the 3:15 left in the first half. These two free throws ignited a 25-5 run that lasted into the second half to give the Panthers a convincing 48-25 lead.

The Panthers never looked back, as Jeter was able to get every player who isn’t hurt or redshirting into the game.

Besides McWhorter, three other Panthers were able to score in double figures. Matt Tiby finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while J.J Panoske and Wichmann each chipped in 10 points apiece.

McWhorter scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half, and finished the evening with seven rebounds and three assists. This was a bounce back performance for the senior point guard after he got into foul trouble and ended up only seeing the court for 17 minutes of action against Auburn.

“Making sure I remained on the court was my main focus tonight,” McWhorter said. “I just let the game come to me, and I was able to knock down some shots.”

Despite only scoring three points, Justin Jordan continued to be a reliable player off the bench for Jeter, grabbing seven rebounds against the Golden Eagles. In his first two games, he has looked extremely composed in the Panther’s offense, distributing the ball well and making excellent decisions.

“He’s a freshman so I shouldn’t say much, right?” Jeter said as he looked at McWhorter. “But let’s just be honest. With Steve (McWhorter) off the court at Auburn, he did a phenomenal job.

“He still has to understand that he’s a freshman and he can’t read all the press clippings. Just keep playing. What I like most about Justin is he’s been consistent from the day he’s come onto this campus. He’s been the same guy. He works hard, he puts extra time in to become better. He’s studious, he ask questions, he knows what we’re trying to do. He’s just a solid player.”

Although Minnesota-Crookston is a Division II program, the Panthers are able to take many positives out of this game, while also noticing some areas they still need to improve on. The Panthers had solid contributions off the bench from their younger players, and defensively didn’t allow a single second chance point.

Milwaukee will need to focus more on getting the ball down low moving forward, as 28 out of their 53 shots were three-point attempts. At times this is all the Golden Eagles’ defense was giving them, but the Panthers should have made it more of a priority to pass the ball down low against a smaller front court.

Overall, this was a solid game for Milwaukee, and they will look to build on this performance against IUPUI on Wednesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

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