OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) - Five players reached double figures in the Kentucky Wesleyan College men's basketball team's victory over Salem University. The Panthers broke through a stifling zone defense to finish with an 81-68 win at the Sportscenter.
As the Tigers (4-11) immediately fell into a two-three zone, Daniel Dzierzawski and Evan Milligancombined to hit three early three-point shots. Midway through the opening frame Wesleyan held a 22-11 lead, but suffered a five-minute drought as the Tigers' zone started to catch-up.
However, the Panthers controlled the final three minutes of the half as the contest was tied at 24. Two late three-point buckets by Brandon Hatton and Dzierzawski allowed Wesleyan a 32-26 lead at the break.
A strong offensive start to the second half gave the Tigers a 39-38 lead with 16 minutes left in the game. Malek Harris returned the lead to the Panthers on the following possession as Wesleyan never trailed again. Malik Toppin cut the Tigers deficit to 44-41 with a pair from the charity stripe, but a 9-2 run by the Panthers followed to establish a 53-43 advantage.
The inside-outside game by the Panthers kept a double-digit lead down the stretch. The Tigers briefly pulled within six points, but Wesleyan maintained at least a 10-point lead in the final four minutes. Hatton converted three of five three-point shots in the second half while scoring 14 of his 23 points in the frame.
Hatton also finished with two assists and one steal. Milligan added 15 points and nine rebounds while Amir Warnock collect 15 points and seven rebounds. Harris made half of his shots to chip-in 13 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Dzierzawski recorded 11 points and seven rebounds while Rasheide Bell set-up the offense with six assists.
The Panthers will take to the road on Saturday for a contest against Ohio Valley. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 PM.