MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee used a 14-3 run midway through the second half to pull away for a 64-51 win over SIUE men's basketball Thursday at UWM Panther Arena.
SIUE has dropped six straight and fell to 1-6. Milwaukee improved to 6-3.
The Cougars got out to a fast start, scoring the first four points of the game on jumpers by Yemi Makanjuola and Jalen Henry. The teams traded leads five times during the first 20 minutes and the score was tied five times in the half.
SIUE extended its lead to four twice more in the half. A jump-hook by Mike Chandler with 7:41 to play before half made it 19-15 SIUE. Akeem Springs hit a three-pointer for Milwaukee on the ensuing possession and then J.J. Panoske made a pair of free throws to put the Panthers on top 20-19 and Milwaukee never trailed again.
The Panthers led 29-26 at halftime.
"I thought we started better," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "I thought the energy was there throughout the first half. I thought we had a few too many turnovers and Milwaukee isn't a team that really pressures you. That was the difference in the game."
The Panthers went up 10 (38-28) within the first five minutes of the second half before SIUE mounted a comeback. A Connor Wheeler three-pointer with 11:38 to play capped a 9-3 SIUE run and trimmed Milwaukee's lead to 41-37.
Jordan Johnson converted a layup, was fouled, and then hit his free throw to start Milwaukee on its run.
"We got a little stagnant and that's when they made that run," Harris said. "When the ball stopped moving for us. We were forcing the issue a little bit and they made some shots."
Carlos Anderson was the only SIUE player to score in double figures. He led the team with 10 points and a career-high eight rebounds. Grant Fiorentinos and Burak Eslik each added eight points. Yemi Makanjuola scored seven points and added seven rebounds. Keenan Simmons scored five points and also added a career-high eight rebounds.
Matt Tiby led three Milwaukee players in double figures. He scored 12 and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Johnson and Cody Wichmann each scored 10 points.
SIUE outrebounded Milwaukee 43-34 for the game and the Cougars held a 28-24 advantage in points in the paint, but SIUE centers were hampered by early fouls. Makanjuola was whistled for two early fouls and Fiorentinos picked up two fouls in the first half as well.
"The foul trouble bothered us a little," Harris added. "That's the first time all year that both of them have been in foul trouble."
Milwaukee also adjusted its defense to handle the Cougars' size advantage.
"They made an adjustment and started doubling the post," Harris said. "We didn't do a good job handling their double-team. Our guards didn't do a good enough job moving and giving our bigs outlets."
SIUE stays on the road for a Saturday afternoon matchup at Northwestern.