Franklin Scores Team High in Season Opener

Franklin Scores Team High in Season Opener

Panthers’ senior guard Ricky Franklin scored a team high 21 points as the UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team opened their season with an 89-73 victory against Concordia-St. Paul on Friday night at the US Cellular Arena.

UW-Milwaukee shot 1-of-16 on three-pointers (6.3%) in the first half. They hit 3-of-24 three-pointers (12.5%) for the entire game. With their long distance shots not falling, the Panthers changed their game plan, relied on driving to the basket to score. Head coach Rob Jeter said he didn’t have to tell his played to make adjustments.

“I thought they did a pretty good job correcting themselves.” Jeter said.

UW-Milwaukee’s strategy was helped by senior forward James Eayrs establishing himself as an inside force. He scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds.

The Panthers' ability to go inside helped give them a huge free throw advantage, attempting nine more free throws (27) than Concordia (18). UW-Milwaukee managed to hit their free throws, hitting 20-of-27 (74.1%), while Concordia only hit 9-of 18 (50%) free throws.

“I think we played pretty good on the offensive end.” Franklin said.

Hard Fought First Half

The Panthers jumped out to a 22-15 lead in the first half, until Concordia used their three-point stroke to fight their way back into the game. A three by Concordia senior forward, and Wisconsin native Craig Heiman brought them within two points of the Panthers to make the score 25-23. Concordia tied the game on its next possession at 25-25 with eight minutes left in the first half. 

Concordia junior guard Andrew Kuderer hit two consecutive three-pointers within the next minute to give his team a 31-29 lead.  

The Panthers hit two free throws on their next possession to tie the game 31-31. The two teams exchanged baskets until Eayrs hit a lay-up to give UW-Milwaukee a 41-39 lead with 2:33 left in the first half. The Panthers ended the first half on a 7-2 run in the last 2:33 and ended the half with a 48-41 lead and never looked back.

“Concordia came in and fought. They played hard.” Said Jeter.
Panthers’ Two-Headed Monster

The Franklin and Eayrs tandem accounted for 27 of the Panthers’ 48 first half points (56%) and 41 of their 89 total points. Coach Jeter said he was happy with their performance.

“That’s a good inside-outside punch. We need that.” Jeter said.
Jeter also said that other players must step up for the team to stay successful.

“We’re looking for that third or fourth guy.” Jeter said. We definitely need something more than just two guys. That’s where Tony Meier or any of the any guards come in. Someone’s going to have to be more consistent for us.”

Concordia St. Paul Player Comes Home

Concordia’s Craig Heiman was impressive in his return to the state. The 6-foot-5 forward from Marshall, Wisconsin was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points, including 13 in the first half. His three first half three-pointers were a big reason Concordia kept the game close for a good part of the game.

“It was good to see (Craig) Heiman come into the state and have his family and friends get a chance to see him play.” Jeter said.

Tough Road Ahead

Next, UW-Milwaukee will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to play Western Kentucky in the Preseason NIT Tipoff Tournament. Western Kentucky finished 15-3 in the Sun Belt Conference and 25-9 overall last season, their fifth straight 20-victory season. They made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament and were one shot away from reaching the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

“It’s going to be the first time that we’re going to be the team that’s trying to hunt down the favorite.” Jeter said. We’re looking to see if we can raise the level of our game and our play to play a Western Kentucky team that is outstanding.”

It will be Western Kentucky’s season opener. They return their top five scorers from last season, including this year’s Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year, A.J. Slaughter. 

Ricky Franklin said he’s looking forward to the game.

“It’s an honor just to be invited to the NIT and play against the top competition in the NCAA.”

It will be the Panthers first road game of the season.



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