Image credit: ESPN.com
In a highly-anticipated Horizon League matchup between two top teams, the Milwaukee Panthers capitalized on miscues to take an overtime thriller 80-77 over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at UWM Panther Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In mid-January, the Panthers were leading the Horizon League in dominant fashion with only one league loss, coincidentally against these very same Grizzlies in Rochester Hills on December 29th. Oakland started off slow in that one but pulled away in the second half to win 83-61. The Panthers have lost only two more games since then, but a surging Youngstown State has usurped the first-place spot, leaving every remaining game to be vital if the Panthers want to reclaim their regular season crown.
Their path to redemption has officially been kickstarted with a thriller win over the shorthanded Golden Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have been missing their outside threat Rocket Watts due to illness in the last two games. Watts has been available off the bench but has not yet been utilized by head coach Greg Kampe.
Oakland jumped out to a nine-point lead with 14 minutes left in the first half. Good defensive rebounding and a slow offensive start for the Panthers allowed the Grizzlies to have something they’ve been trying to hold in first halves throughout this season: solid momentum. Both teams, warm on offense, traded blows for the remainder of the first half. Oakland lead 50-40 at halftime, with their second 50-plus-point half since the win at home against Cleveland State.
The hot offenses came out of the gate in the second half, with Oakland maintaining a steady ten-point lead and making the Grizzlies comfortable in their offense.
Then the Milwaukee Panthers turned up the heat. The Panthers cut the Oakland lead down to three with 5:49 left in the second half. Oakland’s Keaton Hervey kept Oakland afloat with a three-pointer at the 4:57 mark, but it would be the Grizzlies’ last regulation points, as Milwaukee’s Vin Baker and Ahmad Rand threw down powerful dunks to give Milwaukee a second chance in overtime.
What started out as an offensive shootout slowly transformed into a series of missed shots and bad ballhandling for both teams. Milwaukee reclaimed the lead with all points scored and denied Oakland any chance of returning, blocking a last-second Keaton Hervey dunk and foul draw to inch Oakland over the Panthers.
The Grizzlies were lead by guards Jalen Moore and Blake Lampman, and forward Trey Townsend. Each totaled above 15 points, with Townsend totaling 21, Moore totaling 19, and Lampman totaling 18. They will try to keep their season alive and fight for a home game in the Horizon League Tournament, with their first of four home games to close out the season coming against the IUPUI Jaguars.
The Panthers dominated the paint, with four players posting double digits. Rand and Baker both totaled 16 points, either in mid-range jumpers or driving unencumbered to the paint. BJ Freeman totaled 15 and Justin Thomas totaled 13, each contributing partially from beyond the arc. They look to keep momentum going in their next game against the current number one team, the Youngstown State Penguins.
WXOU will be back on the broadcast for the IUPUI game, and will broadcast the remainder of Oakland Basketball’s regular season. You can tune in on the TuneIn app or by going to wxou.org/listen