The 3rd Man In

Tough loss at home

Coming into tonight’s matchup the excitement was in the air as the Milwaukee Panthers were playing their first regular season home game at the U.S. Cellular Arena in over a year, but the excitement did not last long. After winning four straight games, the Panthers (4-2) suffered a defeat against DePaul (3-1), 80-71.

“I asked a lot of these guys,” said head coach Rob Jeter. “To come back home, get back in class, back in study hall and then get ready for a game without a practice — basically just stretch and recovery — and then play a Big East opponent that’s going to pressure us and have two phenomenal scorers like (Brandon) Young and (Cleveland) Melvin? I give my guys a lot of credit.

“We’ve just got to be a little more disciplined, and that’s coming.”

This was their fourth game in the last five days, and you could tell that the players were just worn out. DePaul was not an easy opponent and to ask the players to put forth their best effort with such short rest was a little unfair.

“We asked these young men to do something that I thought was going to be very difficult for a team that is as inexperienced as we are, to play as many games as we did in a short turnaround,” said head coach Rob Jeter. “We get tired at about the 10 minute mark, you could see it, and then mentally we break down.

“Now that’s not an excuse, because when you are disciplined, no matter how tired you are, you’re going to do the right things. And clearly that’s where we’re trying to get with this group.”

Although fatigue appeared to set in, some Panther players still had big nights. Matt Tiby led the way on both sides of the ball as he recorded another double-double. He was all over the court as he had 20 points with 11 rebounds, two assists and one block.

Two other players also scored in double figures for the Panthers as Kyle Kelm added 16 points off the bench, and Austin Arians had 10.

In the first half the Panthers and Blue Demons went back and fourth, as it was a closely competitive 20 minutes of basketball. Milwaukee jumped out to the 4-0 lead, but then DePaul was able to go on an 8-0 run.

With 11:34 remaining in the first half the game was all tied up at 16 apiece. For the remainder of the half, both teams seemed to trade baskets as the biggest lead either team held was by three points. At halftime the game was tied up at 32 all.

In the second half, DePaul’s offense was practically unstoppable as they jumped ahead right away. The Blue Demons at one point were up on the Panthers by 12 points, as DePaul did not trail for a single minute in the second half. Milwaukee was able to cut the deficit by six points, but the Blue Demons offense was too much to handle.

DePaul shot 60.7 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point territory in the second half. Overall in the game they made 49.2 percent of their field goals, while making nine of their 18 three point attempts.

Forward Cleveland Melvin lead the Blue Demons with 20 points on the night, while center Tommy Hamilton was not far behind with 19.

“You have to look at some of the shots Melvin and Young made and give them a lot of credit,” said Jeter. “Those were some big-time plays.”

Milwaukee on the other hand struggled from the field making only 40.7 percent of their shots (22-54), and a dismal 28 percent (7-25) from long range. They were also outrebounded for the fourth straight game with only 28 boards compared to DePaul’s 38.

The Panthers did do a great job taking care of the ball as they only had nine turnovers. They were also almost automatic from the free throw line making 20 of their 23 attempts.

“We made more free throws than they attempted. That is a positive,” said Jeter. “We have been pretty consistent in a few areas. That is one of them. Rebounding is the next thing that we got to bring up.”

It would have been nice to see the Milwaukee Panthers win on opening night, but it just was not meant to be, as they did not play well on the offensive side of the ball. While it was mostly due to fatigue, the Panthers will need to work on the little things, like rebounding and taking more quality shots, in order to beat a team at the level of DePaul

“Obviously as a coach you are kind of disappointed you lost, but there are a lot of positives here,” Jeter said. “Just disappointed that we just couldn’t finish it off. To come home for our first home game, it would’ve been nice to have our fans leave feeling a lot better and have our student athletes leave feeling a lot better.”

Now the Milwaukee Panthers will head back onto the road as they will travel to Tennessee to take on Tennessee Tech this Saturday.

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