Panthers comeback falls short against Wright State
DAYTON, OH (PANTHERS ATHLETICS) – Wright State used a big first-half scoring run to jump ahead of the Milwaukee men's basketball team, holding off a second-half charge before claiming the 92-82 victory Saturday at the Nutter Center.
Back-and-forth from the opening tip, the Panthers (7-10, 6-9 Horizon League) fell into a tough hole when the Raiders (17-4, 15-3 Horizon League) used a 17-2 scoring run to jump ahead at 40-20.
"We didn't play great defense and spotted them 15 points in the first half," head coach Pat Baldwin said. "I was proud of our guys for coming back in the second half. We had our chances when we were down six."
The lead grew to as many as 22 in the first half but Milwaukee had plenty of fight left, getting back within six on a handful of occasions down the stretch.
Josh Thomas stayed hot, leading the offense with a career-high 24 points. He hit 11-of-16 shots and added four rebounds.
DeAndre Gholston finished with 20 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Te'Jon Lucas had 13 points and seven assists, while Tafari Simms added 12 points and four boards off the bench.
"Proud of the guys to play hard to the end," Baldwin said. "We just have to figure out, on the defensive end, how we are going to be and what we are going to be. I think that has let us down for the most part. We had been pretty solid on the defensive end and now we just have to get back to that."
The Panthers were unable to complete the comeback in the second half despite clawing closer minute by minute, helped along by a much better defensive effort by MKE after the break. They held WSU below 30 percent deep into the period, trimming the deficit down to just six points on four different occasions in the closing minutes before the Raiders had the answer and cemented the victory late.
Loudon Love led the WSU offense with a double-double of 29 points and 12 rebounds to help the Raiders stay red-hot, running their winning streak on the season to nine consecutive games.
Love had 18 at the half on 8-of-10 shooting to spark the early advantage.
MKE battled out of the gates, but Wright State forged ahead by nine to force an early timeout at 27-18. The deciding run came shortly after, netting 13 straight as part of a 17-2 spree that doubled up the score at 40-20.
The advantage hit as many as 22 in the first half, with the Panthers whittling it down to 15 at the break.
MKE shot 47 percent (31-of-66) on the day, compared to 46.8 percent (29-of-62) for the Raiders. WSU also dominated the glass at a sizable advantage of 44-29 to play a big role in the contest.
Up next, the Panthers return home to close out the regular season with a final series against Oakland. Game one tips Friday at 5 p.m. from the Klotsche Center.