Wed. Final: UWM 72, Loyola 58
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- This time Avery Smith's point total didn't match his jersey number -- zero.
Smith, who failed to score in his last two games, scored 17 points to lead Wisconsin-Milwaukee to a 72-58 victory over Loyola of Chicago in a Horizon League game Wednesday night.
"Just come in and compete and help my team get a victory," is how Smith described his attitude after two scoreless games. "We were able to bounce back and not get discouraged."
Not only Smith but the entire team had struggled in the two losses that dropped the Panthers (13-8, 8-3) from first to third place in the conference. Smith had a lot of help ending the losing streak as Tone Boyle added 15 points, Ricky Franklin 13 and James Eayrs 10 .
The most impressive statistic was Milwaukee's school record 59 rebounds, two more than it got against Southern Ilinois-Edwardsville in a 70-59 victory Jan. 12.
The 59-23 rebounding edge caught the attention of Loyola Coach Jim Whitesell.
"They beat us to the ball all night," said Whitesell. "The story there is the rebounding situation. They just beat us up on the boards. They got second and third shots over and over again."
The Panthers did not shoot well, hitting just 27 shots for 35.5 percent but the rebounds allowed them to put up 76 shots, 30 more than Loyola.
Coach Rob Jeter said the reason for the boarding frenzy was due to his team's desire to win the game.
"Energy and effort are the things that sum the game up," said Jeter, "and it shows on rebounds."
Smith, a 6-foot-1 guard, had a career-high 13 boards, three more than he had Jan. 4, 2007, against Detroit.
"We wanted to be the aggressor," he said. "Just play hard both offensively and defensively."
Franklin hit three 3-pointers in the first five minutes to help Milwaukee grab a 16-6 lead in a game in which it never trailed. The game also marked a big comeback for Franklin, who had only scored three points in the two losses.
So how did it feel to match that point total in the first 16 seconds when his first shot went in and then triple it in just a few minutes.
"You feel a little bit better when you hit shots than when you're brickin' all the time," he said.
The Panthers led at the half 38-25 but the Ramblers were able to pull within 44-39 on a basket by Aric Van Weelden.
But whenever the Ramblers missed a shot after that, the Panthers took the ball away from them. Milwaukee scored 11 straight points to pull away despite the efforts of players like J.R. Blount who had 12 points for Loyola.
"It was very demoralizing," Blount said. "They had more total rebounds than we had points. It's just pathetic."
The Ramblers (12-10, 4-6)lost for the third time in five games. Darrin Williams added 10 points for the Ramblers.
Milwaukee also beat Loyola Jan. 3 80-66.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)