Mon. Final: UWM 61, Valparaiso 47
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A first-half drought that turned into a second-half flood meant victory for Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
After missing all 11 of their 3-point tries in the first half, the Panthers hit 6 of its first 8 in the second period Monday night en route to a 61-47 victory over Valparaiso in a Horizon League game.
Avery Smith, who led Milwaukee with 22 points including two 3s, said the Panthers didn't lose their confidence.
"We just wanted to come out in the second half and keep it up and make the open shots," he said. "We just had to get our rhythm."
The Panthers got it going right away after intermission as Ricky Franklin, Smith and Tone Boyle hit 3s in an 11-2 spurt that put them ahead for good at 29-25.
Crusader coach Homer Drew said it was not only improved shooting that helped the Panthers rebound from a 23-18 halftime deficit.
"They came out and just intensified and they really hurt us," said Drew.
In addition to hitting shots, the Panthers stepped up the defense and held the Crusaders to 28.6 percent shooting on just 8-of-28 shots.
The Crusaders (4-11, 1-3) lost for the 11th time in 13 games. Urule Igbavboa led Valparaiso with 12 points.
The Panthers (9-5, 5-0) won their fourth straight game. Boyle added 10 points for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said he's happy but not content to be undefeated in league play at this point in the season.
"You want to win them all," Jeter said. "It feels good but we're just going to keep plugging away."
The Panthers had to fight hard to overcome a weak start that allowed Valparaiso to hold a double-digit lead for most of the first half including 23-12 on a basket by Erik Buggs.
"I was really pleased with our first half," Drew said. "They came out and showed a lot of heart and courage. We played as well as we could."
But the Panthers scored the final six points of the period and then took command with their opening scoring barrage in the second half.
Igbavboa said his team knew the Panthers would be more intense in the second half but failed to counter them.
"We didn't adjust to what they were doing," he said.
Jeter said he never lost confidence his players could hit long range shots. However, Jeter said he expects the team to do more than fire away from long distance to win games.
"We all understand we feel good about making outside shots," he said. "But I'm proud of these guys for going inside and making things happen."
The inside play helped the Panthers get to the free throw line 24 times and they made 17 free throws.
Drew said Milwaukee's ability to score inside and outside makes it a tough team.
"They can shoot and they can penetrate. They're hard to defend," he said.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)