Panthers Dig Deep To Overcome Huskies, Win NIU Invite Title
Nov. 17, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - Malcolm Moore scored 15 points to lead five players in double figures and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee overcame plenty of foul trouble and an early 14-point deficit to claim an 82-69 win over Northern Illinois and the championship of the NIU Invitational.
Instead, sparked by Moore, the strong direction and leadership of Steve McWhorter and some timely plays by others, Milwaukee outscored NIU, 75-48, over the final 29 minutes of the game.
McWhorter had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, scoring 12 of his points in the first half. Austin Arians and Aaron added 13 apiece, while Kelm fought through his foul trouble to score 12 points and grab six rebounds in 17 minutes.
The Panthers also made 11 three-pointers, eventually won the battle at the foul line and had just two turnovers in the second half.
In the end, it's a four-game winning streak for Milwaukee, with contributors coming from nearly every line of the roster.
"We couldn't have started any worse than we did. We needed some help off the bench and our guys did a great job," Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said. "Our second and third guys that came in there did a phenomenal job of really carrying us through. And I thought Steve was huge - Steve McWhorter really put us on his back."
"We just needed to take our time," McWhorter said. "Usually when we take our time on offense we get pretty good looks. We've got shooters, and I can penetrate. I knew if I could get into the zone and kick it to the shooters that we'd be fine."
Moore, a fifth-year transfer from UTEP who has been slowed all preseason by injury, came through at the perfect time for Milwaukee. Nine of his 15 points came from beyond the arc and 12 came in the first half, when the Panthers desperately needed an extra spark.
"A few games back we mentioned to him, `Hey it's going to be your turn. One of these games you're going to have to step up for us,'" Jeter said. "Tonight was the night.
"I think that's what I like more about this team. It doesn't matter who, we just need someone to do it. And these guys have been doing it as a group."
Milwaukee's slow start saw the Panthers put together their poorest 10 minutes of the season. A three-pointer by Aaron Armstead made it 21-7 with 10:52 remaining, and UWM actually had to fend off a handful of additional NIU possessions to keep the deficit at 14.
But Moore and McWhorter combined for six in a row to get the Panthers going and eventually a three-pointer by Moore brought Milwaukee to within three at 26-23. An Evan Richard three gave Milwaukee the lead by halftime and UWM seemed much more comfortable in the second 20 minutes.
"Just do the ordinary is what we always tell the guys, just do the basic stuff, especially when you're down like that," Jeter said. "I thought we were getting a little rushed. Let's take a few more seconds and get patient and then get good looks and break it down slowly. And these guys listened."
While Milwaukee could never totally shake Northern Illinois in the second half, it did lead nearly the whole way and took the lead back for good with 10:50 left.
It was a Kelm three with 1:36 remaining that finally seemed to break the spirit of the Huskies, with Milwaukee going up 72-65. UWM then made 10-of-12 free throws from there to seal the win.
Now, the Panthers carry a four-game winning streak into their home opener Tuesday, with Big East foe DePaul making a visit to the U.S. Cellular Arena.
"These guys persevered and I'm very proud of this team," Jeter said. "We've been talking a lot about how we have a lot of new faces and we need some leadership, and I thought we saw leadership from the entire group tonight."
Tuesday's game tips off at 7 p.m. and can also be see on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and the Horizon League Network.