Panthers Hold Off Penguins' Late Rally, 76-66
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Jan. 10, 2008) - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's basketball nearly saw Youngstown State overcome a 17-point deficit, but held on for a 76-66 win Thursday evening at the Klotsche Center.
The Panthers (7-7, 2-1 Horizon) made it back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 11 and handed the Penguins (7-7, 2-1 Horizon) their first league loss of the season.
"We are so excited about the victory," UWM head coach Sandy Botham said. "Youngstown is a very good team. They had won three in a row, were 2-0 in the league and at the top of the standings. This was a great home victory. The league has the most parity it has ever had, so we have to take care of business at home."
Junior Traci Edwards paced Milwaukee with 30 points and 12 rebounds, while eclipsing a pair of school records. She hit seven free throws to surpass Maria Viall's career school record of 390 free throws made (394) and surpassed Viall's career double-double mark she had tied last Saturday (37).
"The records really don't mean anything (to me), just the win does," Edwards said. "I wouldn't have any of the records I have without everyone else. I'm a post. They have to get me the ball and just that's the way it is. (Everyone) played pretty well, and they have been the last few games. We are picking up everything and I fell pretty good going into conference."
Tiara Scott led Youngstown State with 22 points and Lauren Branson scored 17.
UWM turned a 12-point halftime lead into a 17-point advantage when freshman Jineen Williams hit a three-pointer to make it 50-33 with 14:56 to play. The Penguins then went on an 18-2 run, holding Milwaukee without a field goal for 6:38 to pull within one at 52-51 with 9:03 to play.
Rote stopped the bleeding with a long three from the top of the key at the 8:18 mark. Onson then hit a lay-up and Edwards buried a three in front of the Panther bench to give her team a nine-point lead at 60-51. YSU would get no closer than seven down the stretch.
"We've lost a lot of games where we have been up and teams have come back. We all saw the looks in our eyes," Botham said. "But, our players battled and I talked about `cut your heads off', just play, go hard, don't think out there. Aubri's three broke it open. That's the kind of player she is and everybody had a sigh of relief."
The Panthers shot 48.1 percent for the game and gained a key 43-33 advantage in rebounds. They also limited Youngstown State to just 39 percent shooting, including 27.3 percent from three-point range. UWM did shoot an uncharacteristic 60 percent from the free throw line, but got to the line a season-high 30 times.
Sophomore Jodie McClain and junior Turquoise McCain also had big games for the Panthers. McClain dished out a career and team season-best nine assists to go with a steal and four boards. McCain, meanwhile, created havoc for YSU all night long, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds, three assists, a block and career-high five steals.
Milwaukee came out of the gates quick and jumped out to a double-digit lead through the first half and never looked back, taking a 36-24 lead into halftime. The key for the Panthers was a 10-0 run that broke open a three-point game.
YSU had fought within three at 17-14, before Edwards scored the next six points of the game. Freshman Maurika Hickman then hit a pair of free throws and junior Turquoise McCain hit a lay-up to make it 27-14 with just over nine minutes before halftime. UWM would push its lead to as high as 15 in the frame with 2:18 to play.
The Panthers dominated the boards in the first half, forging a 28-11 advantage, including 10 offensive rebounds. They also allowed Youngstown State to shoot just 31.3 percent from the field, including 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) from three-point range.
"(Our players) wanted it. We came out with good energy from the get-go, executed our defensive game plan," Botham said. "I talked about it in the locker room, the biggest thing that concerns me about Youngstown was their rebounding. We are the top of the league in rebounding, but Youngstown is right there. I said that could be the difference in the game. They took that to heart."
Edwards picked up her ninth double-double of the season in the first half alone, scoring 15 points to go with 11 rebounds.
UWM continues its home league weekend Saturday, hosting Cleveland State at the Klotsche Center, beginning at 2 p.m.