March 7, 2006
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Boo Davis scored 18 points to help Wisconsin-Milwaukee beat Butler 87-71 Tuesday night, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with its third Horizon League tournament title in four years.
Fans swarmed the court at the buzzer, celebrating the NCAA bid under first-year coach Rob Jeter.
With leading scorer Joah Tucker on the bench after picking up his fourth foul only 39 seconds into the second half, the Panthers continued to rely on their inside game and got key contributions from reserves Derrick Ford and Mark Pancratz.
The Panthers (21-8) outscored Butler 56-24 in the paint and outrebounded the Bulldogs 40-24.
Brandon Polk scored 27 points to lead the Bulldogs (19-12). He also got in foul trouble, picking up his fourth when he was called for an offensive foul with 13:19 remaining in the game.
After struggling from 3-point range for much of the game, Butler closed to 65-56 on back-to-back 3s by Avery Sheets and Bruce Horan.
However, Davis answered with his own 3, putting the Panthers ahead by 12 with 5:21 remaining.
The Panthers sealed the victory on a breakaway dunk by Jason McCoy, as Horan was called for an intentional foul. McCoy hit two free throws, stretching the lead to 79-62 with 3:21 remaining.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee won two of the previous three Horizon League tournaments and past three regular-season titles under former coach Bruce Pearl, who left in the offseason to coach at Tennessee.
Jeter, a former assistant to Bo Ryan at Wisconsin, inherited four returning starters from last year's team, which reached the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
The Panthers also defeated Butler to win the 2003 Horizon tournament.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee led 40-32 at halftime despite 17 first-half points by Butler forward Brandon Polk.
Polk scored nine points in a 13-2 run that put the Bulldogs ahead 24-19 with 9:21 remaining in the first half. However, the Panthers answered with an 11-0 run, taking a 26-24 lead on Davis' rebound and putback with 2:44 remaining in the half.
The Panthers' run included an alley-oop pass from Tucker to a skying Derrick Ford for a slam-dunk and a foul. Ford hit the free-throw to complete the three-point play.