The 3rd Man In

Phoenix comes back to knock off Panthers

Everyone knew it would be a good game, but did anyone expect it to have a March Madness feel to it? The Milwaukee Panthers (12-6, 2-2) welcomed in-state rival Green Bay (13-3, 3-0) to the U.S. Cellular Arena today in front of a packed Panther crowed, but suffered a tough 93-86 defeat in overtime.

“That was a great college basketball game,” head coach Rob Jeter said. “We’ve come a long way in 12 months. For these guys to put themselves in position to have a lot of success, it says a lot about the character of this group.

“Having said that, some of the inexperience does show. Careless turnovers here, a few missed box outs there, still show with this group. In games where we have opportunities to finish, we’ve seemed to let things kind of come back.”

Jordan Aaron led five Milwaukee players in double-figures with 26 points, while Matt Tiby was not to far behind with 20 points and seven rebounds. Kyle Kelm also recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Aaron regained his touch from three-point range today making five of his nine attempts after entering the game zero for eight from long range over the last two games.

“Just getting into the gym, getting some shots up (was the difference)”, Aaron said. “When you’re a shooter, you’re going to have some off nights. Tonight I was able to make some shots and my guys where able to get me open. Everything went down tonight.”

The difference in this game though, was Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes. He scored 34 points as the Phoenix came back to win after trailing by nine in the second half to tie the game at 82 apiece to end regulation. Green Bay was able to outscore Milwaukee 11-4 in overtime to capture the victory.

“When you have the best player in the league in Keifer Sykes, man, he made every right play down the stretch,” said Jeter.

Right from the opening tip you could tell that this game would come down to the wire as each team traded baskets. With 8:33 left in the first half Milwaukee led 24-23 on a layup by Tiby, but that was when all the momentum shifted in Green Bay’s favor.

The Phoenix went on a 12-0 run to jump out to the 35-24 lead, but the Panthers fought through the adversity to cut the deficit to four by halftime.

“I was really please with how they responded. That game could have gotten away from us early and it did not. Our guys battled,” said Jeter.

Milwaukee continued to control the game in the second half, jumping out to a lead within the first two minutes. The Panthers then went on a run to push their lead to nine, as the score was 63-54 with 12:08 left in the game.

This did not stop Green Bay though, as they started to chip back eventually tying the game up with 43.5 seconds left to push the game into overtime, where they pulled out the come from behind victory.

Milwaukee finished the game shooting 46.4 percent (32-69) from the field, including 41.7 percent (10-24) from three-point territory. They recorded only 12 turnovers, but were outrebounded by the Phoenix 45-35.

This was a tough game, as the Panthers were the better team, but they could not make the plays at the end to knock off the preseason favorite. One thing this game does prove though, is that Milwaukee can play with anyone in the Horizon League.

“We know the teams are great in this league… and we’re going to bring it every night,” Aaron said. “No team scares us. We’re not going to back down from anybody.”

Up next the Panthers will play at UIC this Thursday.

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