Mitchell accepts his bruises to lead Whitewater past Platteville
Mitchell’s evening also included an elbow to the throat and a shoulder to the stomach.
Despite taking all that punishment from bitter rival UW-Platteville, Mitchell and Whitewater still got the better of the Pioneers, 83-73, in WIAC action here Wednesday night.
Mitchell and forward Mike Bendall each had 20 points, while DJ Dantzler chipped in 16 to help Whitewater (18-4, 10-3) remain knotted with Stevens Point atop the WIAC.
By posting just its fourth win in seven games, Whitewater expects to finish strong down the stretch to claim the conference championship.
“The thing that was positive was that we were able to get off to a much better start tonight than we have in many of the games during this run,” Warhawk coach Pat Miller said. “Our ball movement was better, which was indicated by our 21 assists.”
Whitewater’s patience was certainly aided by shooting 65 percent from the field and 8 of 13 from the three-point line.
The effective shooting also helped the helped the Warhawks’ inside game. Bendall found Mitchell over the top of the defense for easy layups three times during the Warhawks 12-2 start early in the first half.
“The high-low game is what we’re trying to get back to,” Mitchell said. “That’s where we were the first half of the season, and we’ve kind of gotten away from that and been really perimeter oriented, but our best game is inside.”
Despite owning the low post, Whitewater could not build upon the hot start. Platteville used a 7-0 spurt to trim the deficit to just 16-13 with 12:53 to play in the first half.
But Whitewater never cooled off from the field. The Warhawks maintained and eventually carried a 40-34 lead into halftime.
The shooting exhibition was a welcomed sight for Miller, who watched his team throw up errant shot after errant shot in a loss at home to UW-River Falls in overtime on Saturday.
“If somebody can explain to me how we can shoot 35 percent from the field and 20 percent from three (Saturday) and then turn around and shoot 65 percent and 61 percent from three tonight, I would love to know,” Miller said “I love some insight.”
Whitewater remained consistent in the second half.
Bendall and Dantzler each drilled a three-pointer during an 8-0 run early in the second to give Whitewater a 12-point lead, 54-42 with 13:27 to play.
Platteville eventually cut the deficit to 63-58 before Mitchell took control with a three-pointer from the top of the key and a three-point play to rebuild the lead to 71-58 late in the second.
The Pioneers never drew closer than seven the rest of the way.
“Once they (Platteville) started to come back, we were starting to get away from it (inside game) again,” Mitchell said. “We just got to stick with it and pound inside.”
Whitewater certainly got Mitchell’s message.
WHITEWATER 83, PLATTEVILLE 73
Platteville (73)—Hanson, 10-17 2-2 25; Shaw, 5-12 5-7 16; Allen, 2-7 0-0 4; Stallion, 0-1 0-0 0; Wall, 7-11 7-7 10; Kieler, 3-9 1-1 7; Brown 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-58 15-17 73.
Whitewater (83)—Free, 3-6 2-2 8; Negri, 3-6 0-0 9; Mitchell, 9-10 1-1 20; Edmunds, 3-4 2-4 8; Bendall, 6-7 7-10 20; Dantzler, 5-11 3-4 16; Fletcher, 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 30-46 15-21 83.
UW-Platteville 34 39—73
UW-Whitewater 40 43—83
Three-point goals—Platteville 4-13 (Hanson 3-6, Shaw 1-3, Allen 0-2, Kieler, 0-2), Whitewater 8-13 (Free 0-2, Negri 3-6, Mitchell 1-1, Bendall 1-1, Dantzler 3-3). Rebounds—Platteville 27 (Wall 10), Whitewater 24 (Mitchell 10). Assists—Platteville 9 (Hanson 4), Whitewater 21 (Free 7). Total fouls—Platteville 19, Whitewater 17.