Nankivil puts up a wall
Leuer scored 20 points and Wisconsin defeated UW-Milwaukee 61-40 on Wednesday night for its 18th straight win in the series.
Taylor added 14 points and Nankivil finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks to go along with his defensive effort against top scorer Anthony Hill.
“I’ve always loved blocking shots just because it’s an energy thing,” Nankivil said. “That’s always something that’s just been fun to me.”
Wisconsin (7-2) hasn’t lost in the yearly matchup since 1992, and this one was never close in the Badgers’ final game before facing their real in-state rival Marquette on Saturday.
Milwaukee (4-6) committed 10 of its 15 turnovers in the first half and Hill, who came in averaging 14.9 points per game, scored three points and missed all eight of his shots.
“I was just trying to hold my ground as much as possible,” Nankivil said. “Once you get off to a slower start, it’s hard to come back from that during a game.”
Ja’Rob McCallum finished with 12 points and Tony Meier had 10 for the Panthers.
Leuer shot 9 of 15 from the field and reached double figures for the 16th consecutive game.
“Leuer, he just makes shots that aren’t defendable for us,” Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said. “He catches them in the post and just turns and shoots over the top. Other than not allowing him to catch the ball, I’m not sure what else we could do. Maybe tickle him or something when he catches it.”
It was no laughing matter for Milwaukee, picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Horizon League this year. The Panthers only lost by three to Marquette a little over two weeks ago, but the Badgers proved to be way too tough against Milwaukee’s offense. The Panthers shot 30.8 percent from the field.
“We never really got a chance to get our inside game going at all, it was null and void,” Jeter said. “As we got into the middle part of the game, I think we got a little discouraged, started taking some shots that weren’t as strong.”
With Wisconsin up by as many as 29 in the second half, the biggest highlight came during a timeout, when Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, who played collegiately at William & Mary, beat interim Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell in a free-throw contest.
When Hill missed two free throws a few minutes later, the student section chanted “Biddy’s better.”
“I heard she was knocking ’em down,” Taylor said, laughing.
Wisconsin, which came in with the nation’s lowest turnover rate, had a few uncharacteristic mistakes of its own and committed five turnovers in the first 10 minutes.
But leading by seven, Wisconsin turned up the pressure midway through the first half and finished on a 16-4 run to take a 34-15 halftime lead. Leuer contributed six points and Nankivil blocked all three shots on the other end over two possessions in the stretch.
“Jon did a nice job of really not hurrying shots,” coach Bo Ryan said. “Nine of 15, that’s pretty good, and he had a couple that rattled out.”
Jeter played for Ryan at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville from 1987-91 and spent 10 of his 11 seasons as an assistant for Ryan, where the two combined to go 333-86, not including a stint with Team USA. As an opposing coach, Jeter is now 0-6 against his former coach and mentor.