Milwaukee escapes with a win vs. Purdue Ft. Wayne

Well Panther fans, I guess these Milwaukee Panthers just like living on the edge.

KP was the co-player of the game and almost single-handedly brought us back from the abyss

Purdue Ft. Wayne fought tough. And this was a close (and entertaining no doubt) game throughout. It is increasingly clear that the Horizon League is a league of very good parity (just look at the jumble of teams vying for 2nd and 3rd place), if not the highest level of "major-major*" D1 play. 

Milwaukee (19-10, 13-6) just couldn't get things going in the first half (a familiar theme all season).  The teams went into the break with Milwaukee trailing PFW, 46-40.

Coach Lundy woke the team up and changed strategy to deploy an intense full court pressure man-to-man defense. And it worked like a charm- PFW ballhandlers were flustered and predictably turned over the rock. At one point, Justin Thomas (14pts, 4ast, 4reb) had 2 consecutive steals which he returned to the goal with 2 one-hand dunks.

And then there was the offensive machine that was BJ Freeman and Kentrell Pullian.

Freeman had his best game yet last night; the Panthers turned on the afterburners in the 2nd half

But Purdue Ft. Wayne wouldn't go down quietly. After a long see-saw battle for the lead, the Panthers finally pulled ahead for the first time in the game.

Freeman (19pts, 11reb, 12ast 👀) hit a tough shot in the low post and made his extra point free throw. Then KP launched and connected from distance and Milwaukee went up by 5, 78-73 with 6:00 remaining.

Pullian (25pts, 3ast, 3reb), who along with Freeman had a career game last night, knocked down a huge triple to increase Milwaukee's lead to 6pts with 3:36 left.

"This full court pressure has changed the complexion of this game" -Wayne Larivee

Milwaukee then, with deafening Klotsche Center crowd support, built up their lead to as high as 9 with 1:34 left. But this game was not over. PFW proceeded to knock down some unreal triple chucks and come to within 2. But we made our free throws at a high enough rate, and Jarred Godfrey's prayer shot at the buzzer just missed. Milwaukee won, "by the skin of their fangs", 96-94.

The Mastadons' Ra Kpedi, who leads the league in rebounding at 8.2 per, destroyed us on the glass. We don't have much of a front line; we can correct that over time but for now it just has to be worked around via fast-paced guard play and good outside shooting.

We've got our shooters and when these Panthers are shooting well, they can't be stopped.

Freeman joined the elite "TRIPLE-DOUBLE" club; this is a rare feat (just the 5th in school history) and will certainly add to Horizon POY votes- especially if Freeman ends the season on a bunch of high notes.

The Panthers are now guaranteed to host a 2nd Round Horizon League Tourney game at Panther Arena next Thursday. Next up is the final regular season game versus Cleveland State at Panther Arena.

Be there.

R.I.P. Pounce (2008-2023); he was a great cat

*I look forward to the day the only "major" we talk about is Major Goolsby's 😉

go panthers  
stack good days.