Sat. Final: UWM 77, Cleveland State 75
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Careless play in the final minutes nearly cost Wisconsin-Milwaukee a Horizon League victory over Cleveland State.
The Panthers got career scoring highs from James Eayrs with 23 points and Anthony Hill with 20 on Saturday night, but they had to survive a dramatic run in the final 4:31 to edge the Vikings 77-75.
Milwaukee, which led 37-32 at the half, was ahead 73-54 after a 3-pointer by Eayrs.
That was the moment, Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said later, when "We got careless."
Refusing to back down, the Vikings made a strong run against a wilting Panther squad. Cleveland State nailed four straight 3-pointers, two by J'Nathan Bullock, to pull within 73-66 with 3:01 to play.
Norris Cole scored with 57 seconds left to pull the Vikings within 77-75. But Milwaukee hung for the win when Trevon Harmon missed a jumper with 3 seconds left that would have tied the game.
"We didn't play well enough to win the game," Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said. "But we did play well enough to win at the end. I thought Milwaukee played an outstanding 35 minutes and they deserved to win even though we fought back."
Jeter was disappointed with his team's late collapse.
"I thought for 37 minutes we played a disciplined game. We did a lot of good things," he said. "We did enough to win the game but the last three minutes we would have liked to finish it a lot cleaner."
Tone Boyle added 12 points and Avery Smith had 11 for the Panthers (12-6, 7-1), who have won nine of their last 11 games.
Hill's previous high was 17 against Ball State in November, while Eayrs had 22 in a game earlier this month.
The Vikings (13-7, 4-4) were led by Cole's 21 points, while Bullock had 19 and Cedric Jackson 17.
Jackson said he and his teammates knew they had to keep firing quickly down the stretch to have a chance to win
"We knew what we were doing," he said. "We had to get quick shots. We just had to charge it and knock it down."
Boyle said the Vikings poured in the points and the Panthers couldn't stop them
"At the end of the game they hit quite a few shots on us," he said. "They got us on our heels and we really didn't respond."
Despite the scare, the Panthers remained in second place behind unbeaten Butler (7-0). The Vikings, who were the preseason favorites to win the Horizon League title, are fading fast in the league race.
Despite a second straight loss and a 4-4 record, Waters thinks his team still has a chance
"I think so," he said. "I said (before the season) the team that wins it would have four losses," he said. "We feel that we can't stub our toes any more."
The Vikings fought back from a 23-12 deficit to tie the game 28-28 on two free throws by Jeremy Montgomery. But single free throws by Boyle and Smith and a basket by Boyle put the Panthers back on top 32-28.
Jeter and his assistant coaches were barefoot to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The tribute was started in 2007 by Samaritan's Feet to remember King's efforts to raise money for shoes for children around the world.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)