Milwaukee beats Wright St 69-63 for Horizon title

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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Picked to finish last in the Horizon League’s preseason poll.

Seeded No. 5 heading into the conference tournament.

From start to finish, Milwaukee has been mostly overlooked.

Maybe that’s why the Panthers so enjoyed cutting down those nets on Tuesday night with everyone watching.

Senior forward Kyle Kelm had a double-double as Milwaukee’s front line dominated, and the Panthers led the whole way during a 69-63 victory over Wright State for the Horizon League tournament title.

“I might wear this for two weeks,” senior guard Jordan Aaron said, with one of the joyously snipped nets drooped around his neck.

Milwaukee (21-13) is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, when the Panthers knocked off Oklahoma in the first round before losing to Florida. They’re 3-3 all-time in the tournament.

This one was most unexpected. The Panthers became the first No. 5 seed to win the Horizon League tournament, winning all but one of the tournament games on the road.

“Everything has seemed to come together,” coach Rob Jeter said, wearing the other net around his neck. “There hasn’t been anything they’ve slacked in. That’s the toughness that’s required to represent the Horizon League as champions.

“We never rattled.”

Kelm had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Aaron scored 18 points as Milwaukee went 9 of 18 from beyond the arc against the league’s top defense and had a 35-28 edge in rebounds.

“They really got after us on the boards,” said Wright State’s Matt Vest, who had 11 points. “That’s a credit to them, especially their seniors. Kelm and Aaron really carried them.”

Wright State (20-14) had a season-high six-game winning streak snapped. The Raiders were trying to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007, but wound up losing the tournament title game for the second year in a row.

A.J. Pacher led the Raiders with 16 points despite spending much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble.

The title game wound up on Wright State’s floor after the tournament’s top two seeds got knocked out in the semifinals. Milwaukee beat No. 1 seed Green Bay 73-66 in overtime. No. 3 seed Wright State beat No. 2 seed Cleveland State 68-63.

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