Dark times in the Sunshine State

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Athletics.

Poor shooting and weak interior defense lead to Hatter payback

They say that basketball is a game of runs, and that was on full display today as Milwaukee dropped the first game of the Sunshine Slam to Stetson, 85-67.

Eight months after an all-time postseason performance, Milwaukee returns to Daytona Beach for a rematch with Stetson. It’s the first of two games for the Panthers as part of the Sunshine Slam. Their second will come against Siena tomorrow. The last time these two teams met, BJ Freeman scored 43 points in an overtime win in the first round of the CBI. Unfortunately, the Hatters came into this game looking for revenge.

Milwaukee got off to a very strong start, scoring 14 unanswered points in five minutes after Stetson scored the first basket of the game. Stetson went on a run of their own, scoring 12 in a row to take a one point, 17-16 lead. The Hatters had two more 8-0 runs in the first half to head into the break leading 43-30. They outscored the Panthers 41-16 in the last 15 minutes of the half. Jalen Blackmon led all scorers at the break with 14.

The story of the second half was Stetson big man Aubin Gateretse. The native of Charleroi, Belgium scored 18 of his 26 points in the second frame, and didn’t miss a single shot. He dominated the paint in a number of ways, whether catching lobs from Blackmon, using his strength in the post, or getting easy looks off of offensive rebounds. He bullied the Panthers frontcourt all day to the tune of 26 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks; all career highs against D1 competition. 

When Gateretse wasn’t having his way inside, Stetson’s guards killed Milwaukee with their perimeter shooting. Blackmon and Tristan Gross shot a combined 7/15 from behind the arc, getting lots of easy, open looks in the corners. Stetson as a whole shot over 40% from distance.

Milwaukee was on the other end of the offensive spectrum. Outside of Freeman, who made six of his 12 shots from beyond the arc, the Panthers shot 4/22 from outside; a paltry 18%. The anemic perimeter shooting made life miserable in the paint for Milwaukee. Too often players would drive into the paint, only to be faced with two or even three defenders. Freeman made shot one of six from inside.  Elijah Jamison, one of six. Markeith Browning, two of seven. Freeman scored 20; the only other Panther in double figures was Erik Pratt, who scored seven points in the last two minutes of the game when it was already out of reach. 

Milwaukee hopes to end their three-game losing streak tomorrow against Siena, who is coming off a 70-56 loss to Central Michigan. KenPom has the Panthers as six-point favorites. The game will be on FloSports at 8:30 pm ET.

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