CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Alabama arrived as the better 3-point shooting team, but it was Wisconsin-Milwaukee that rode the deep shot to an historic win in the Chicago Region.
Led by 21 points apiece from Ed McCants and Joah Tucker, the 12th-seeded Panthers surprised the No. 5 Crimson Tide, 83-73, in a first-round NCAA Tournament game.
The Panthers' first tournament victory extended a 10-game winning streak and established a school mark for wins at 25.
"We expected this," Tucker said. "It wasn't a big surprise for us."
McCants, shaking off foul trouble, had five of his team's 12 3-pointers, including a huge shot from the left corner that restored an 11-point lead, 74-63, with 2:23 to play.
"We beat a very good team but we represent that non-high level of basketball," UW-Milwaukee coach Bruce Pearl said. "When you get in this tournament, you have the opportunity to show that. Players win the game, that's the bottom line."
Alabama entered the game shooting 39.4 percent from the arc, but Wisconsin-Milwaukee (25-5) used the 3-pointer to take the early advantage. Making 10-of-16 attempts in the first half, the Panthers led 45-32 at the half.
"We shot so well that Alabama couldn't rotate off of our shooters and didn't want to for fear of giving us more open shots," Pearl said. "We don't have a low-post threat so we had to spread the floor and make them cover. I thought our patience played a part, recognizing time and score."
With a sense of urgency, the Crimson Tide (24-8) got a dunk by Jermareo Davidson and 3-pointers by Ronald Steele and Earnest Shelton to close within 45-40 with 18:20 to play, but Tucker and McCants made layups on consecutive possessions to push the Panthers' lead to 49-40 two minutes later.
Alabama closed to within five points for a third time at 57-52 on another 3-pointer by Steele with 13:03 left, however Wisconsin-Milwaukee responded with an 8-2 run over the next six minutes for a 65-54 advantage. Tucker scored four of his 15 second-half points during the spurt.
"From the 15-minute mark to the nine-minute mark, that was the game," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "We got it to five, but couldn't get it to three."
After McCants made his huge 3-pointer to make it 74-63, Alabama's Jean Felix hit back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Tide within six at 77-71 with 84 seconds remaining.
"I was kind of confused (late in the game)," said McCants about his pivotal shot. "But coach was saying, 'Attack! Attack!,' and I hit the (3-pointer). That was a good call on coach's part."
The Panthers' Boo Davis sealed the win by sinking four straight free throws in the final 75 seconds. McCants' slam dunk with 15 seconds left punctuated the 10-point win. "Not to sound cocky, but we came in expecting to win," Panthers forward Adrian Tigert said.
Kennedy Winston scored 20 points and Steele chipped in 16 for Alabama, which was bounced in the first round for the second time in three years. Last season, the Crimson Tide made a surprising run to the regional finals as an eighth seed.
"(Perimeter defense) has been our Achilles' heel," Gottfried said. "We had a number of mental errors."
Struggling with turnovers throughout the contest, Alabama finished with 19 turnovers that Wisconsin-Milwaukee converted into 27 points.
The Panthers will face Boston College in Saturday's second round. The contest will be a memorable one for Pearl, a 1982 graduate of Boston College.