Williams, Meier Spark Panthers Past UIC
Feb. 23, 2012
CHICAGO - Kaylon Williams scored 19 points and added 10 assists as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee claimed a 72-61 win over UIC Thursday night at the UIC Pavilion.
Tony Meier pitched-in with 17 points for the Panthers (18-12, 10-7 Horizon), who outscored the Flames, 43-29, in the second half.
The win moved Milwaukee into a three-way tie for fourth place in the league standings and secured a home game in the first round of the league tournament next week.
The Panthers made 14 three-pointers in winning for the third-straight time. UWM also won at UIC for the fourth-straight year.
"We've been talking about trying to get any kind of momentum and just trying to put some things together," UWM head coach Rob Jeter said. "We haven't really been focused in on the result as much as making sure we feel good about our effort and what happens on the court. I think, because of that, our guys seem to be a little calmer and seem to feel a little more confident."
UWM bolted to an 11-point first-half lead before trailing by three at the half. But, the Panthers took the lead for good on a three-point play by Williams with 11:40 remaining and then hung on thanks to strong defense, two key three-pointers by Meier and solid free throw shooting.
"I thought when we were down, Kaylon made the tough drive to the basket for the and-one and then he made a three," Jeter said. "Those were big plays."
The Panthers rode red-hot shooting to a double-digit lead early in the first half. In fact, after UIC scored the first five points of the game, Milwaukee scored 18 of the next 21 points in the contest to lead 18-8 just five minutes into the contest. UIC did close back to within 18-14 on a three-pointer by Daniel Barnes but Milwaukee struck back with another run of its own, going on an 11-4 burst to build a 29-18 advantage with 8:15 remaining.
UWM fell quiet from there, going without a basket for the final eight-plus minutes of the half. In that time, UIC scored 14 points, carrying a 32-29 lead into the locker room.
The Panthers did break their offensive slide right out of the gates in the second half and led 44-40 when Ryan Haggerty knocked in a three with 13:45 remaining. After UIC fought back to go ahead 45-44, five-straight from Williams restored a 50-45 advantage and UWM was up 56-51 on a Meier three with 5:20 left. Another three from Meier pushed the lead to 65-56 with 1:25 left and the Panthers hit seven free throws from there to secure the victory.
"We came out making shots but like any well-coached team they're going to start taking away the threes," Williams said. "I think both teams adjusted and it came down more to execution tonight."
Milwaukee finishes its regular season Saturday at Loyola, with three other Horizon League games over Friday and Saturday also impacting the Panthers' final place in the standings and seed for the league tournament. The league will release the full list of tiebreaking scenarios Friday morning.