MILWAUKEE — On a nice fall day in downtown Milwaukee, inside the cozy University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Panthers arena, a block away from Fiserv Forum where the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks were preparing to take on the San Antonio Spurs, the UWM Panthers were all set up to take on the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Raiders in the team’s first game of the 2021-22 campaign. It was an exhibition game before the real action starts next week.
The match marked the first college game for five-star recruit Patrick Baldwin Jr., as he led the Panthers with 18 points while adding eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of play. Baldwin Jr. shot 3-of-5 from the three-point range and finished 6-of-10 from the floor. It was an efficient night for the projected top 10 pick, shooting 60 percent.
Baldwin Jr. scored six straight points as part of a 9-0 Panthers run that finally put the Raiders away for good midway through the second half. The Panthers took the lead to 10 at the time to get the game to 56-46 on a pair of Patrick Jr. free throws at the 9:01 mark of the game.
“It felt really good,” Baldwin Jr. said on the Panthers YouTube channel when asked how it felt to get back on the court. “Coming out here and finally getting to play against somebody else other than my teammates in practice. I thought it was fun.”
It was fun indeed the day before Halloween, as scary and fun costumes could be seen across the city.
The Panthers came out of the gates a bit sluggish, shooting just 35.7% in the first half. They found themselves behind early, but they snapped out of it and pulled off the win 69-63. It was a game they could use to sharpen their Panther claws a bit before the season.
Tafari Simms joined Baldwin Jr. in double figures, scoring 10 for the day. Josh Thomas pitched in scoring nine off the bench, while Jason Sinani chipped in eight. Jordan Lathon also contributed six points, eight rebounds and three assists in his Panthers debut.
“They were a very tough team and played extremely hard,” Baldwin Jr.’s dad, head coach Patrick Baldwin, said. “Give them credit. They put us in tough spots and obviously, we need to get better in some areas. But this was a great opportunity for us to get in front of fans here at Panther Arena and this was absolutely what we needed to start off this season.”
Up next, the season opens for real at North Dakota on Nov. 9. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and is set to be aired across the entire state on Bally Sports Wisconsin.
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