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Milwaukee Falls to Valpo in Overtime Thriller

It took an extra five minutes to decide a winner Friday night, as Valparaiso University escaped with an 80-76 victory in overtime against the Milwaukee men's basketball team in a game televised on ESPN2 at UWM Panther Arena.
 
Matt Tiby put the Panthers (18-12, 9-8 Horizon League) ahead by a point with 42 seconds remaining in overtime, only to see the Crusaders (25-5, 15-2 Horizon League) respond with a three-pointer by Keith Carter on the ensuing possession that gave the visitors the lead they would not relinquish.
 
"It was a great game," Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said. "Obviously, we are disappointed right now. But I thought we did some nice things to put ourselves in position to win a game again. The law of averages says we have to win one of these, so maybe it's coming. But these guys battled. It's just unfortunate that we didn't get it done."
 
Tiby paced Milwaukee with 21 points and added six rebounds, with his two free throws with 34.0 seconds left in regulation tying the game at 61-61. The Panthers also had a final chance to win in regulation after forcing a turnover, but a last-second jumper went off the back of the rim and sent the contest – which featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes overall – to overtime.
 
"If you combine all of our losses, they have been like this," Jeter said of all the close games. "I am just hoping for something better for this group, because they deserve something better than being on the tough end of these close ones like this."
 
J.J. Panoske knocked in 15 points, making three three-pointers. Akeem Springs scored 14 and Jordan Johnson ended the night with 11 points, six rebounds and seven assists despite playing the majority of the second half with four fouls.
 
Alec Peters scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Crusaders, making 5-of-11 three's. Darien Walker added 15 off the bench.
 
Down five early in the overtime, a three by Panoske helped Milwaukee get back into it. Following a pair of free throws, Austin Arians hit a three of his own and then took a charge on the next possession to give Milwaukee back the ball. Tiby's layup got the crowd to its feet, but the regular-season champions figured out a way to pull out the victory on the road.
 
Valpo scored the first five points of the second half to tie the game at the 17:27 mark. Back-to-back three-pointers by Cody Wichmann made it 44-41 UWM, but seven in a row capped by a Peters' three gave Valpo back some momentum and a 48-44 advantage.
 
The Panthers then went cold, making just 1-of-12 to fall behind, 54-48. They would not go quietly, however, tying the game first at 57-all on a Johnson drive and again at 59-59 with 1:10 remaining on a post basket from Springs.
 
A back and forth first half saw the Panthers hold a 38-33 lead at intermission. Both teams came out ice cold to start, making just two of the first 13 combined shots. Valpo went ahead 17-16 after the Panthers had led for the majority of the period.
 
Milwaukee went on a hot stretch, making 6-of-8 from the field to take a 32-31 lead on a pair of Panoske free throws, extending it to 35-31 on a J.J. three-point play. The 9-0 run was capped on a layup by Johnson with 1:36, marking their largest lead of the period at 37-31.
 
For the game, the Panthers shot just 38.7 percent (24-of-62) from the field, with Valpo finishing at 42.6 percent (26-of-61). The Crusaders also won the rebounding battle at 43-33.
 
The final contest of the regular season is up next. The Panthers welcome UIC for "Senior Day" Sunday, scheduled for a tip time of 2 p.m. Milwaukee will honor its three seniors: Tiby, Panoske and J.R. Lyle.

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