UWM falls short of NCAA tourney, but accepts postseason invitation

UWM staged a furious comeback in the second half of Monday night’s Horizon League men’s basketball tournament semifinals, but ultimately fell short and lost 93-80 to Cleveland State.

UWM’s season is not over, however. The Panthers accepted an invitation to play in the College Basketball Invitational March 18-22 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The full field will be announced Sunday night.

A slow start doomed UWM on Monday. Cleveland State scored the game’s first 10 points and led 46-28 at halftime, as UWM couldn’t get its offense or defense on track. The lead grew as high as 28 points in the second half before UWM’s full court press finally turned the tide. The Panthers cut the deficit to nine points with about six minutes left in the game, but couldn’t get any closer.

The loss dashed UWM’s NCAA Tournament hopes, but first-year coach Bart Lundy praised his team’s accomplishments this season. The Panthers have a record of 21-11, their first 20-win season since 2015-16. They finished second in the Horizon League regular season standings after going 10-22 last year and being picked to finish ninth in the Horizon League preseason poll.

“I am proud of our group,” Lundy said. “We had 13 new guys, four returners, zero corporate knowledge… These 17 guys that had some faith and came together, we hopefully have laid the foundation for great things moving forward. I am proud of them. It was an honor to coach this group. You can say lot of things about us, but there was no give and no quit in any game.”

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