The Milwaukee Panthers held off the Wright State Raiders, 69-63, winning the Horizon League tournament and punching their ticket to next week's big dance. It's the fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and first since 2006.
The first half was mostly defined by streaks. Milwaukee used a 10-2 run to jump out to a 24-9 lead, but Wright State got back into things with a 14-5 run of its own. The Panthers pulled away toward the end of the half and went into halftime leading, 43-33. Neither team had much trouble finding the basket, with Milwaukee shooting 44.8 percent and Wright State making 47.8 percent from the floor.
Milwaukee held a double-digit lead for much of the second half, but Wright State made a late push with an 11-2 run, getting to within four points with just over a minute to go. The Raiders came up just short at the end, as Milwaukee made the necessary free throws to seal the deal.
Kyle Kelm led the Panthers with 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds. A.J. Pacher paced the Raiders with 16 points of his own. Milwaukee cooled off on its shooting in the second half, finishing with a 38.6 field goal percentage, but the Panthers came up big on three pointers, making 9-of-18 from beyond the arc.
Wright State finishes with a 10-6 conference record and an RPI of 167, making even an NIT berth unlikely. The Panthers are going dancing despite having a losing record in the Horizon.