For the Panthers, the focus coming into the game defensively was Big Sky Preseason Player of the Year, Tyler Hall. While the Panthers tried admirably to contain him, holding him to 8-19 shooting for 23 points, Hall did what players of his caliber do: Make timely shots. His three pointer with 3:40 left in the second half pushed the Bobcats lead from 58-57 to 61-57. Brock Stull’s layup with 2:14 remaining tied the game at 64, but Hall, yet again, drilled a three-pointer with 1:52 remaining giving the Bobcats the lead they would hold onto for the rest of the way.
Brett Prahl led the Panthers with 18 points on 7-11 shooting, continuing his efficient play. Leading scorer from last year, Brock Stull struggled from the field, shooting 2-10 from the field, and missing all six three-point attempts, he finished with eight points and four assists. Jeremy Johnson hit 3 three-pointers and finished with 12 points.
“It was definitely really tough (Guarding Tyler Hall),” said Brett Prahl.“I don’t know how many points he had. I think we played pretty good, we just have to do a better job as a team of playing gaps.”
It looked like things were going to go great for the Panthers at the beginning of the game, as they started 4-5 from the field. But the Bobcats 2-3 zone defense stifled the Panthers, as they were forced to pass around the zone, wasting a large chunk of the shot clock on multiple possessions.
Execution and fundamental mistakes cost the Panthers throughout the game. There were numerous possessions that ended with either an offensive foul, or a travel. For 8:05 the Panthers went scoreless in the first half, while also committing 12 turnovers. They managed to keep the game close though, going into halftime only down two.
“What it comes down to in a game like this, especially when it’s late and it’s tight is execution,” said Panthers Head Coach Pat Baldwin.
Brett Prahl agreed with his coach.
“We were fouling a lot in the second half and they were just shooting free throws,” said Prahl. “And they just performed better down the stretch, made plays, while we kind of struggled.”
Like the start of the first half, the second half started out great with the Panthers making their first five shots, but their lack of execution came back to haunt them as they continued to foul on both ends of the floor.
The Panthers sorely needed their star player, Brock Stull to go toe-to-toe with his counterpart, Tyler Hall, but Stull struggled mightily. He did not make a shot until a layup midway through the second half, and his three-point shot evaded him. It looked like he would jumpstart himself via the free throw line, making four free throws late in the first half, but it was to no avail.
Stull said after the game that when a big part of your game isn’t working you have to focus on other ways of helping your team win.
“It’s tough but then you gotta look around and see what else you can do,” said Stull. “Try and obviously get in and rebound, look for other guys. Jerm(Jeremy Johnson) caught fire towards the end, try and get him more touches.”
Stull did finish with four assists and four rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to offset his poor afternoon shooting the ball.
Other notable players for the Panthers were Bryce Barnes who had eight points, including 2-2 from the three-point line, one of them coming off a broken play where he had to hoist it near the end of the shot clock in the first half. True freshman Carsen Warren-Newsome, who had a career high 11 points in the previous game at Norther Illinois, was held scoreless.
Next up for the Panthers are the Jacksonville Dolphins from the Atlantic Sun, where they hope to bounce back from this disappointing defeat.