Green, Decorah Lead Panthers To Big Win Over Flames
March 7, 2013
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's basketball team slowly built its second-half lead to as many as 13 points and then fended off UIC from there, earning a 72-63 victory Thursday night at the Klotsche Center.
The Panthers (9-18, 5-10 Horizon League) won for the fourth time in their past six games, while also snapping a four-game losing streak in the series against the Flames (9-19, 5-10 Horizon League). Up by 13 points with just over five minutes to play, Milwaukee had to turn away a final UIC run, getting within five with 39 seconds remaining before finishing strong.
"It was a fun game to coach, it was a fun game for our players to play in and I think that the crowd got a really exciting game," UWM head coach Kyle Rechlicz said. "I knew it was going to be a high offensive-scoring game, but I couldn't have been more proud of our team and the way they locked into our defensive strategy."
Sophomore Ashley Green led the way with 18 points and added seven rebounds. Junior Emily Decorah finished with 17 points, including five more three-pointers. Senior Sami Tucker was big as well, grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds to go with eight points and four assists.
Senior Sammy Theut tied her career-high with 12 points. Her layup with 50 seconds left and pair of free throws on the next possession iced the much-needed victory for the Panthers.
Milwaukee led by seven at half and was up nine before a UIC run made it a three-point game at 39-36. Back and forth for a bit, UWM would score 12 of the next 17 to take its first double-digit lead on a layup by Green at the 12:44 mark.
"There have been times when we have gone [into the second half] with a lead and then let teams back into the game," Rechlicz said. "Our biggest thing was holding on to it. Let's keep the lead for the rest of the game and really challenge the other team to make a push."
The Flames kept pushing and were back within five, 55-50, with just over eight minutes remaining. The Panthers saved their best run for late, going on a 8-1 spurt that pushed the margin to as high as 13 on a Decorah three with 5:03 to play.
UIC pushed back again, but Theut took it in her own hands in the final minute, scoring on a one-on-one layup before adding that pair of free throws on the next possession to put it away.
Milwaukee shot 44.3 percent (27-for-61) on the night and made eight more three's while also winning the rebounding battle, 39-33. It held the Flames to 35.3 percent shooting in the second half.
With the victory, the Panthers moved to 5-10 in the league standings. Things get interesting from there in the seeds from five through nine in the standings, as UIC fell to 5-10, and with Wright State's win over Cleveland State, the Raiders moved to 6-10 and the Vikings fell to 5-11. Valparaiso was off tonight but is currently 4-11.
"All we talked about was us," Rechlicz said. "You can't control how other teams play or who wins those games. All you can control is the here and now. We locked in, we did our part and now we have to see how the rest of it plays out. We're only focused on Saturday - that is the only game that we are focused on. Then, we will see, come Sunday where we stand and where we are playing."
The Panthers close out the regular-season Saturday, hosting No. 20 Green Bay, which will come into the game with a perfect 15-0 mark in league play. The game will also serve as "Senior Day" and will tip off at 2 p.m.