GREENVILLE, IL–Appearing in the SLIAC Conference Tournament for the first time since 2005 the Panthers fought hard but ultimately fell to Greenville, 120-114 on February 24, 2017. Roaring back from a 26-point second half deficit the Panthers cut the lead to just two with under a minute left, but Greenville converted on a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining to ice the game. The Panthers two seniors led the way as Adaku Anumu poured in 41 points and Justin Ball scored 23 while grabbing 17 rebounds.
In front of a large crowd and great atmosphere Greenville jumped out to an early 10-2 lead with the bucket for the Panthers coming from freshman TreVaughn Goodman. Greenville built on their lead and pushed it to ten points, 21-11 with 13:58 to go in the first. The Panthers went on a 10-1 run over the next minute and a half to cut the lead to just one. The run was keyed by a series of nice transition finishes from Ball and junior Jeff Ross.
After the Panthers cut the lead to one Greenville responded with a steady run and very solid three-point shooting to build a double-digit lead. The Panthers cut into the lead with buckets from Ball and Anumu with five minutes left. Greenville responded again with a barrage of deep balls over the final five of the first half including a bank three-pointer at the buzzer to give them a 66-51 lead heading into the break.
Anumu gave the Panthers a spark to start the second period with a corner three-point ball. Greenville answered back scoring on their next six possessions to make the lead 80-56 with 16:46 left. Sophomore Micah Paulson stopped the run with a 3-pointer. On the next possession Paulson hit a jumper to get the deficit down to 20.
Greenville continued to employ their full court pressure and over the next six minutes the lead ballooned to 26 points. With 11:10 left the Panthers faced a 100-74 hole. From that moment until the 1:09 mark the Panthers went on a 32-15 run. It started with a layup from Ball. Two possessions later Anumu hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 19. After a crucial layup and made free throw from Goodman, Anumu hit another deep ball and the deficit was down to 14 with 7:55 remaining.
Just less than 40 seconds later Goodman picked up his fifth foul, ending his night with just 11 minutes of action. Greenville forced a turnover and hit a three-pointer and the lead was back up to 18 with 6:18 left. With things looking bleaker than ever the Panthers refused to give up. After trading buckets, Anumu hit a long ball with 3:50 left to clip the deficit to 12. The following possession Ross got fouled laying the ball in. He hit the free throw and the lead was down to 9. The teams traded buckets on the next two possessions before the Panthers got a stop. Davidson picked up a rebound and stuck it back with 2:22 on the clock to make the score 115-108. Anumu then scored on back-to-back possessions finishing tough layups in the paint and the lead was down to just three with 1:09 to go. The 26-point deficit had almost been completely erased.
Greenville hit a free throw on their next trip but the Panthers came back and got a bucket from Davidson. However, down two with only 11 seconds left the Panthers had to foul. Unfortunately Greenville hit both free throws and the Panthers, down four, never got a look at tying the game. It was an incredible comeback effort from the team.
Along with Anumu’s 41 and Ball’s 23, Paulson had 18. Davidson had a double-double with 11 points and 15 boards. Ross played great off the bench scoring 14 while grabbing 5 boards and handing out 4 assists.
The Panthers enjoyed great support from their fans tonight and all season long. The final record for the team will stand at 12-12. The Panthers also received some individual recognition pre-game as a host of Panthers took in some hardware. Davidson and Paulson were named All-Conference Honorable Mention. Anumu was named Second Team All-Conference. Goodman was named Newcomer of the Year. Davidson was also on the All-Defensive team and head coach Todd Zimmernman was named Coach of the Year.
Stay tuned for a potential announcement coming in the next few days regarding the end of the year schedule for the Panthers.