Panthers Win, Yet Again..

This UWM Basketball team is officially riding a wave of momentum. The current winning streak was extended to 5 games after brushing aside Youngstown State in Youngstown, 61-39. Paige Paulsen got the Panthers fired up early sinking each of his first 3 3pt attempts.

UWM was set to go into the break with a 15pt lead, but with a possession left and little clock left, Alan Hanson dropped in an incredible shot from about 30 feet away. So with a comfortable 18 point advantage going into the second half, the Panthers held on and never once came close to giving in. Paulsen led all Milwaukee scorers with 16 (4-4 FT, 4-5 3pt), while Hanson, Roberts, Franklin, and James all contributed 8 a piece.

Anthony Hill (4pts) put in a couple sweet post shots (one of them left-handed, off-balance and altogether photo-worthy) that had to have every die-hard Panther fan a bit excited over his potential. Al knocked down a team high 6 free throws (6-6) but most importantly, the team was a perfect 15-15 from the charity stripe.

The Panthers beat YSU in every statistical category but blocks and personal fouls, but the most telling numbers of the game was the Penguins' abhorrent field goal percentage (.245, 12-49), and more specifically their 3pt percentage (.026, 1-13).

To their credit, Youngstown is certainly a better team than the dazed and confused bunch that couldn't start the engine tonight. While a win (esp. such a convincing one) is always a good thing, the Panthers will have to play much better basketball offensively (UWM shot just .359, 20-59 from the field tonight) to leave Valparaiso with their winning streak intact.

It is so exhilarating to watch this team play like they know they can win. At times earlier in the season, it sometimes seemed that many of the players didn't even know if they wanted to be playing. I think it is safe to say that the 11 soldiers who have endured the mind-numbing series of setbacks this season all want nothing more than to put on that black and gold jersey and win basketball games.

Let's give Valpo a fitting Milwaukee-style welcome to the Horizon. Anybody can be beat, as this team has discovered recently. While the streak could very well end with this very challenging match-up at Valparaiso on Thursday night (7pm, Time Warner Cable Channel 32, WISN 1130 AM), remember this- UWM's longest winning streak last season was a mere 2 games (and we are only 2 games from tying last season's entire win total). We persevered through a 6 game losing streak to win 5 straight, and get back above .500 (UWM also went from 9th to 5th in the Horizon in just a few short weeks during this turnaround). How is that for a little improvement?

More importantly though... why stop now?