Sam Houston St. tops Wis.-Milwaukee 81-77
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Sam Houston State’s Reggie Rawlins loved the challenge of turning back Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s furious second-half charge.
Rawlins scored a season-high 19 points Tuesday night and hit key baskets and free throws down the stretch to help the Bearkats (5-0) beat the Panthers 81-77.
“It’s fun, it’s a challenge. All players should like challenges,” said Rawlins. “When you’re down and you get to fight back back and get back in it, it’s really challenging.”
The Panthers (3-3) once again fell behind in the first half—they trailed 37-31 at intermission—only to mount a strong comeback that saw them briefly take the lead. But Sam Houston State Coach Bob Marlin said he knew the surge was coming, and that helped his team weather it.
“We knew that UWM had played good the second half all year. So we knew they were going to come and give us a great effort. They did and they got the lead. I was proud of our team for getting the lead back and they held it the rest of the game,” said Marlin.
The Panthers, who have now lost three of their last four games, had bounced back to win two other games in which they had double-digit halftime deficits. Although the continuing slow starts are hurting the team, Panther Coach Rob Jeter is not sure how to stop them.
“If I had the answer to that maybe we wouldn’t be 3-and-3,” said Jeter.
Ryan Bright scored 14 points, Jeremy Thomas 13 and James Barrett and Shamir McDaniel 11 apiece for the Bearkats, who also beat the Panthers last season 89-73.
Paige Paulsen had 25 points and Torre Johnson 17 for Milwaukee.
The teams traded the lead several times in the second half before Barrett’s basket with 6:32 left put the Bearkats up 63-62. Thomas made two free throws with 24.5 seconds left and then McDaniel hit a pair with 10.8 seconds remaining for an 80-74 lead that put the game out of Milwaukee’s reach.
The Panthers got back in the game in the second half when they ran off 10 straight points, eight of them by Johnson, to erase a 7-point deficit and lead 44-41 with 13:50 left to play.
Johnson had 13 points in the second half to lead the surge and Marlin admitted “he was the best player on the floor.” But after regaining the lead, Milwaukee failed to hold it.
Although Johnson was spectacular at times, he admitted to making mistakes in the second half along with his teammates. He said the key to winning is to play well for a whole game, not just part of one.
“Forty minutes of playing hard and we’ll be all right,” he said.
Sam Houston State used a 13-0 run to take a 37-31 halftime lead.