Whitewater men stun the Pointers
That was when Phil Negri performed CPR to resuscitate the Warhawks.
In the end, however, Whitewater’s Dupree Fletcher performed the biggest miracle of all in the Warhawks’ Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown with top-ranked UW-Stevens Point.
The senior guard scored on a layup with 20 seconds left as Whitewater stunned the Pointers, 61-58, on Bennett Court in Quandt Fieldhouse.
By sweeping the regular-season series, Whitewater moved into the driver’s seat for the WIAC title. While improving to 8-1 in the conference and 16-2 overall, the Warhawks gained first place by half-game over the Pointers (17-2, 8-2).
“We talked all week about how this was going to be a 40-minute game,” Negri said. “We had to withstand the lows and not get too up. I’ve been coached into being a shooter. I put a couple up, and they happened to go in.”
The inability to deliver the knockout blow came back to haunt Stevens Point when Negri got hot.
Negri scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half with the help of four three-pointers to spark Whitewater to a 21-5 charge to start the half.
A Dustin Mitchell basket with 10:12 left gave the Warhawks their first lead at 42-41 and erased a 36-21 halftime deficit.
“To be perfectly honest, there was not a lot of panic (at halftime),” Whitewater coach Pat Miller said. “We felt like if we could get it under 10, we could work from there.
“Once you get it under 10, the whole dynamic changes in a game like that. When the momentum changes, it’s hard to get it back.”
After watching a 15-point halftime lead disintegrate into a 53-41 deficit in a blink of an eye, the Pointers needed someone to reverse their fortunes.
Senior guard Matt Moses took that job. He scored nine points in a 15-4 run that enabled Stevens Point to gain a 58-57 lead on a pair of free throws by Ross Forman.
“I told our young men they made a galliant comeback to get the lead back,” said Stevens Point coach Bob Semling. “Sometimes getting a big lead is the worst thing that can happen. The other team then feels like it can play with no fear or caution.”
With three fouls to give before putting the Warhawks into the bonus, however, the Pointers let Fletcher have a free lane to the basket for the game-winner.
“We ran a pick-and-pop, and they played the pop,” said Fletcher. “This is our biggest win so far, but we have to go back to the drawing board and finish off the conference season.”
Mitchell finished with 15 points, and Fletcher added 14.
The inability to keep the Pointers off the offensive glass and some shaky ball-handling resulted in a 30-12 deficit for Whitewater.
That turned around once the Warhawks kept Stevens Point off the boards, and shots finally started to fall from the perimeter.
“We gave up too many easy baskets with the game on the line” Semling said. “Our offense didn’t lose this game. Our defense let us down down the stretch.”
WHITEWATER 61, STEVENS POINT 58
Whitewater (61)—Free, 1-3 0-0 3; Negri, 5-11 2-2 16; Mitchell, 5-8 4-4 15; Edmunds, 2-3 0-0 4; Bendall, 2-5 1-2 6; Dantzler, 1-4 1-1 3; Fletcher, 5-10 1-2 14; Burns, 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 21-47 9-11 61.
Stevens Point (58)—Moses, 5-9 0-0 12; Jenkins, 4-11 3-4 13; Hurd, 6-15 0-0 13; Krull, 1-2 0-0 2; Hoelzel, 1-3 0-2 2; Harris, 3-10 1-2 9; Tillema, 2-5 0-1 4; Forman, 0-3 3-5 3; Sweeney, 0-2 0-1 0. Totals: 22-60 7-14 58.
UW-Whitewater 21 40—61
UW-Stevens Point 36 22—58
Three-point goals—Whitewater 10-22 (Free 1-2, Nigri 4-8, Mitchell 1-2, Bendall 1-2, Dantzler 0-1, Fletcher 3-6). Stevens Point 7-18 (Moses 2-3, Jenkins 2-5, Hurd 1-3, Harris 2-3, Sweeney 0-2, Forman 0-2). Rebounds—31 (Mitchell 5), Stevens Point 38 (Moses, Jenkins 5). Assists—Whitewater 9 (Negri, Mitchell 3), Stevens Point 11 (Moses 3). Total fouls—Whitewater 14, Stevens Point 10.