Your Milwaukee Panthers showed a lot of fight in the first 15 minutes of the game vs. Loyola this past Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately our guys seemed to get a little complacent with what they had built up to a 12 point lead, and started to slow down quite a bit (just as Loyola began to speed up).
The Rambler attack was led by lightning-quick guard Geoff McCammon (21pts) while Anthony led all Panthers with 19 points (most of which were scored in the opening 15 minutes when your Milwaukee Panthers looked like the team we saw beat up Butler and UIC in recent weeks).
After about three mini-runs (one of which was orchestrated almost elusively by Kaylon Williams (who by the way has been the only Panther other than Tony Meier who has seemed to have finally figured out this "consistency thing" that has been our Achilles heel all season..))... time ran out and Milwaukee (9-10, 4-4) had to swallow the tough pill of a very winnable home loss to Loyola - 71-65.
You have to give Loyola (11-8, 2-6) credit- they shot nearly 70% in the second half. In the first half we were getting open looks from all around the perimeter and Ant was automatic each time he got fed in the post. But in the second half, it was quite the opposite- mainly due to Loyola playing smothering and in-your-face defense.
Loyola's advantage on the boards (29-24, but more telling: 24-13 of the defensive kind..) and their overall intensity in the second half outmatched ours. They wanted it more- and they got it.
We didn't play that bad (but once again as is the almost barometer of our wins and losses... we only shot just barely less than 40% (39.7) from the field- and lost.
That is just how the game works when you play in a conference where anybody can beat anyone else. There are no cream-puffs in the league this season (not even perennial bottom-feeder YSU). Butler just lost- again (at Wright State). Not a single game on the schedule can be taken for granted. I wish we would have learned that after the Western Michigan game.
As I mentioned after the Green Bay loss- we can take some modicum of comfort in the fact that this was not a blowout loss. I am confident those painfully disheartening affairs are behind us.
But a loss is a loss is a loss. No two ways around it- we should have never let up- we could have and should have swept the Chicago schools' tour of Milwaukee last week. Maybe we can bring out our brooms when we head down I-94 to their places in February..
All we can do is have a short memory and look forward with more of an "expectation to win" and not a "hope" to win attitude. We were 13-12 last season before our big push to the Semis... the Packers were 3-3 at one point early in the season.
All is not lost. Not yet. Not when we've seen what momentum can do. Now if we could only find it. Momentum is a heck of an elusive but powerful thing.
GO PANTHERS!!!! BEAT VALPO!!!!