Second half deficit too much to overcome for Panthers

MILWAUKEE (MILWAUKEE ATHLETICS) – Northern Kentucky stretched a small lead into a 10-point cushion midway through the second half in handing the Milwaukee men's basketball team a 79-65 loss Saturday afternoon at the Klotsche Center.

"We were battling throughout and then in the second half, we just couldn't get the stops that we needed or the rebounds that we needed in order to make a push," head coach Pat Baldwin said.

The Panthers (7-8, 6-7 Horizon League) were within five points on numerous occasions against the Norse (11-8, 9-5 Horizon League) after the break, but could not get over the hump. The victory helps NKU extend its winning streak to six games on the season.

"It's disappointing," Baldwin said. "I thought our energy was good starting out in this game. But the energy just wasn't good enough – we needed to make plays and we didn't make enough of them today."

Josh Thomas led the MKE offense with 19 points off the bench, connecting on an impressive 8-of-10 field goals. DeAndre Gholston was also in double-figures with 10, adding four rebounds and four assists.

Trevon Faulkner led NKU with a game-high 21. Adrian Nelson posted a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds.

NKU stretched out a five-point halftime lead to 49-41 before Milwaukee stemmed the tide. A fastbreak dunk by Thomas trimmed the margin to 50-45 and it was five again at 54-49 on another Thomas jumper with 10 minutes left.

From there, the Norse slowly pulled ahead. The lead was 10 for the first time at 63-53 and was only back under double-figures one more time the rest of the way.

Milwaukee came out the aggressor on the day, eventually building a 19-14 lead. Seven unanswered surged the Norse ahead, 21-19, and a 13-2 run shortly after that gave the visitors a 27-21 advantage and forced an MKE timeout.

The Panthers dug in and were back within a basket at 34-32 following a three by Donovan Newby, only to see the Norse score five of the final seven of the period to grab a 39-34 lead at intermission.

Milwaukee shot 48.1 percent (26-of-54) from the floor, with NKU a notch ahead at 48.2 percent (27-of-56). NKU dominated the boards, 38-22.

Up next, the Panthers take to the road for their final regular-season series away from home, battling Wright State. Game one is set for Friday at 6 p.m. CST.

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