Milwaukee topples UC Davis in final minutes for a big win

We've got HIGH hopes (now)!

Faizon Fields played only 3 minutes last night at UC Davis but his actions in the these minutes won the game.

As Fields drained both free throws that put Milwaukee ahead for good, Panther fans breathed a collective sigh of relief and hoped to themselves, "maybe this season is about to turn around"?

Milwaukee started off the game much like the other duds that led to losses. We got out to an early deficit and the rainclouds began to gather. But then, with an Erik Pratt triple and a few surprising moves from Milwaukee native and Bradley Tech alum Learic Davis, Milwaukee stormed into the lead with minutes remaining in the first half and went into the halftime break up by 4 points, 39-35.

After last season's thriller against UC Davis that ended with a Josh Thomas buzzer beater, Milwaukee fans were reminded that turnarounds happen. Maybe this would be the big "inflection point" game once again, to reboot a foundering season?

The second half was a well-fought battle on both sides with the lead being traded virtually every other possession. UC Davis was given the opportunity to break the tie and take the lead for good on a final shot with just seconds left. But fortunately for Panther fans and our unnerving losing ways of late, the Aggies' Ty Johnson (who had a whopping 28 points along with Elijah Pepper) faltered bigtime in the final seconds and after missing a layup, fouled Faizon Fields, who then calmly iced the game for the Panthers with two made free throws: 81-79 Panthers win.

Milwaukee is finally back in the win column and may have some things to look forward to if this lineup and rotation starts to look and play a little differently in the remaining games.

Erik Pratt led all Milwaukee scorers with 18 on 7-12 shooting to go along with 3 rebounds and 4 assists. Aaron Franklin scored 15 and grabbed 6 rebounds. Learic Davis was extremely versatile in his 23 minutes of action (8pts, 4reb, 3ast, 3stl) and he missed just a single free throw on the night. Angelo Stuart scored 9 on 3-4 from long range as he continued to remind Panther fans why he is such a key cog in this program. Gelo is a marksman (41.7% from 3pt currently) and we desperately need shooters to continue this season turnaround effort.

This game against the Aggies was tighter than a tick, especially in the second half

We don't know when BJ Freeman is returning but there is a rumor he may be back for the game this Wednesday night against Longwood. Regardless, this Panther team needs an overhaul. Results- current/recent results speak louder than anything else that may have seemed to make sense at the beginning of the season.

Long and short- the players doing their best job to salvage this season should be rewarded with minutes. And failure to perform to the DI level we need should be disciplined with a reduction of minutes. It really is that simple. There is only so much time in a basketball game and every minute from every player out there factors into the game result.

For the Panthers not yet performing to the level they are capable of- I look forward to seeing them rediscovering their greatness. But we have to play the hot hand. It is kill or be killed out there.

And last but absolutely not least- we played much better defense last night, and we were rewarded (go figure). Defense generates offense. 

New personnel righting the ship

Erik Pratt is emerging as our second big scoring threat. He played relatively selfishly in the early games of this season but after being benched for it (not passing, not playing aggressive defense), he has emerged as one of our best players. Who would have known?

Faizon Fields who got a lot of guff early on for (like Aaron Franklin) shooting three pointers he has no business shooting, is joining Franklin (and Darius Duffy) to give Milwaukee at least the semblance of a post presence. Last night it worked against a mediocre UC Davis team that was favored to beat us by 9.

Learic Davis is emerging a a potential 6th man or even starting swing forward of the future. A lot of people wrote him off early as not even being DI quality but he has a mind to prove otherwise and that he's in this for the long haul.

Milwaukee returns home and will play host to Longwood of the Southern Conference this Wednesday, 7pm at Panther Arena. This home stand will close out the 2023 portion of the season with Longwood followed by visits from Chattanooga, Robert Morris and Wright State.

Is this another turnaround? Get to the games or tune in- and watch. I think a reformulated rotation could take this team very, very far. You don't know what you have until you've seen it a few times and wow have we seen it now for several games from some of these new Panthers that at least initially, nobody expected anything from.

go panthers  
stack good days.