Swan's Late Free Throws Help Send Panthers Home A Winner
Jan. 19, 2013
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Late-game heroics provided the difference as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's basketball team earned a hard-fought 63-60 victory over Cleveland State University Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center.
Senior Sammy Theut put the Panthers (5-10, 1-2 Horizon League) back on top with 20 seconds left in the contest and then freshman Jordyn Swan came off the bench to make a pair of free throws with just 7.2 seconds remaining to provide the final difference in the game.
The Vikings (10-7, 2-2 Horizon League) had one last opportunity to tie at the buzzer, but the Milwaukee defense withstood and helped the team earn its first Horizon League win of the season and also it first victory in Cleveland since January of 2006.
"We count on different people in different times throughout the season and in this game we counted on so many people to make so many different plays," UWM head coach Kyle Rechlicz said. "We counted on Avyanna (Young) for defense, Janna (Swopshire) for defense, (Sammy) Theut for leadership in general, Angela (Rodriguez) for scoring and then, obviously, the most noticeable one is Jordyn (Swan) - who plays no minutes the whole game and then subs in and hits the biggest free throws of her career. It was a team effort, I couldn't be more proud."
Junior Angela Rodriguez led three players in double-figures with 19 points, including a 5-of-7 performance from three-point range and six assists. Junior Emily Decorah went 5-for-9 from distance to account for all 15 of her points and senior Sami Tucker added 10. Sophomore Ashley Green grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and added six points despite being limited to just 23 minutes because of foul trouble.
"We moved the ball better this game, I felt like our offense was back on track," Rechlicz said. "We just looked for each other, and that is the mark of a really good team. And that is what we had been doing earlier in the season."
Shalonda Winton led CSU with a game-high 22 points, recording eight boards, four assists, three blocks and a pair of steals. Nafeshia Holifield added career-best totals of 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Panthers led for most of the game and fought back after the Vikings took a late lead. Theut actually gave Milwaukee its final lead, picking up a loose ball in the lane and finishing the layup on the left side to make it 61-60 with just 20 seconds remaining.
"I told her in the locker room after the game, `I was looking at your face when you took the final shot and you just looked so calm'," Rechlicz said. "It was just like another layup in a layup drill and it was huge. That is what you count on your seniors and leaders for."
Decorah came up big after the team took that lead, tying up a loose ball while the Vikings were trying to run a final play. She jumped into the mix and earned the alternate possession with 16.4 seconds left and the Panthers holding the possession arrow.
Swan, who had not played in the game until seconds before being fouled with her team up one, calmly made both free throws and then the defense held off a final three-point try.
"Coach drew up the play for us and I got open right away and they fouled me," Swan said. "I was nervous at first but just told myself `this is just like practice, just like any other day', so as soon as I hit the first one, I knew the second one was going in. I knew that the team would lock up on defense once I hit that final shot."
Things looked good after halftime, with the Panthers quickly building a 10-point cushion at 37-27 early in the second half. But, the Vikings would never go away, using a 22-9 run to retake the lead for the first time since the middle of the first half and pushed the advantage to 49-46.
With 4:33 to play, a pair of Tucker free throws gave UWM a 50-49 lead, which it would eventually build to 55-51 on a high-arcing three from the corner by Rodriguez minutes later. But, Winton, who scored 14 points in the second half alone, kept at it and her free throws with 2:04 left tied the game again at 55-55.
An entertaining game from the tip, the first half featured four ties and four lead changes and plenty of makes from long-distance for the Panthers. In fact, 75 percent of UWM's points before halftime came from beyond the arc, sinking 8-of-10 attempts.
The Panthers led by as many as four points early on before the back-and-forth started. A three-pointer by Kiersten Green pushed CSU back ahead, 21-20, at the 5:04 mark.
Then, the three-point barrage really started. Decorah helped the Panthers retake the lead and then built it to five at 26-21 with just over three minutes to play on back-to-back three's. The Vikings clawed back a bit, but then it was Rodriguez's turn, burying consecutive threes of her own to push the advantage back to five at halftime at 32-27.
Decorah (12) and Rodriguez (11) were both in double-figures already after the first 20 minutes.
Overall, Milwaukee shot 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the floor, but hit 47.8 percent of its three's (11-of-23) to finish with at least 10 made 3's for the fifth time this season. The defense held CSU to 34.6 percent (18-of-52) shooting in the game - 22.2 percent from long-distance - and also won the rebounding battle, 38-37.
Up next, Milwaukee returns home to continue Horizon League play, welcoming Valparaiso University to the Klotsche Center Thursday at 7 p.m.