UMKC shot only 35.5 percent on Wednesday night at Panther Arena, and while defense kept it close, its comeback bid fell just short to UW-Milwaukee by a 65-56 margin in men’s basketball action.
“We had some really good stretches on defense tonight,” Head Coach Kareem Richardson said. “But we missed too many open looks on offense. We definitely have to get better.”
To say the ‘Roos (3-5) started the game slow on offense would be an understatement, not scoring a point until the 14:21 mark and not passing the 10 point barrier until 5:23 was left in the first half. Fortunately for the ‘Roos, their defense kept it from getting too out of hand.
A fastbreak layup by the Panthers (4-4) with 7:40 remaining made it 20-7, but Richardson decided to put Martez Harrison back in the lineup, even with two fouls, in order to jump-start the offense. It paid off as Harrison scored seven points down the stretch, including a floater just before the buzzer to get the margin down to 28-22 at the half.
UMKC shot just 29.6 percent in the period, while Milwaukee hit 40.7 percent, but seven steals and 10 turnovers forced by the ‘Roos kept it close. Harrison had nine at the break to lead Missouri-Kansas City, while UWM was paced by J.R. Lyle with nine.
The second stanza saw the Panthers jump out to a 10-point lead, but UMKC came back with a 9-3 rally of its own to cut it to four at the 15:28 mark on a Collin Jennings layup. Each time the ‘Roos cut it to four though, UWM answered.
A long run from the 11:21 mark until 8:47 remained, spelled doom for the ‘Roos though, as Milwaukee got its lead to 16 on a 10-0 rally. UMKC never gave up though, going on another big rally, getting a three from Shayok Shayok with 3:36 left to make it a five-point game. The key to the rally was defense though, as UMKC held the home team scoreless for more than three minutes.
A Shayok free throw with 2:57 left cut the lead back down to four, but again the Panthers answered, this time on a three and a jumper in consecutive possessions to seal it, leading 60-51 with 1:36 left.
Harrison had his 26th consecutive game in double figures with a team-high 14 points, ranking third all-time at UMKC. The ‘Roos forced 17 turnovers from UWM, making it the eighth consecutive game UMKC has done that. UMKC also hit only 35.5 percent from the floor, 27 percent from three, and 57 percent from the line. The loss was the fifth this season by 10 points or less for the ‘Roos.
Shayok also scored in double figures for UMKC with 11 points and seven rebounds. UMKC actually out-scored the Panthers 32-14 in the paint, but 45 percent shooting and eight threes helped the home squad hold on for the win.
UMKC will continue its road swing on Saturday when it heads to South Dakota State for a 1 p.m. tip-off.