Janesville36.3°

Whitewater falls, Pointers throw WIAC lead into a three-way tie

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Tim Wester
January 26, 2012
— UW-Stevens Point head coach Bob Semling has enjoyed watching his team battle Whitewater in many classic WIAC basketball games.

So much so that the veteran coach wants the classic rivalry to get television coverage.


Whitewater, however, didn’t quite look ready for prime time in its latest brawl with the Pointers.


Stevens Point withstood a 16-1 Whitewater run early in the second half and knocked off the second-ranked Warhawks, 71-60, here Wednesday night.


The clutch victory moves Stevens Point (15-4, 8-2) even with first-place Whitewater (8-2), along with UW-River Falls, in another closely contested WIAC race.


River Falls had just defeated the Pointers, 82-75, at Stevens Point on Saturday to give the Warhawks a chance to go up on their visitors by two games with a win Wednesday.


The Pointers could not let that happen.


“We came in a little more determined after a tough loss at home and a game behind Whitewater with our backs against the wall,” Semling said. “It’s always a classic battle with Whitewater.


“I just wish these games were seen on TV so more fans can see these classic battles between Whitewater and Stevens Point.”


Warhawk head coach Pat Miller would like to see his team hit a few more jumpers before any talk of TV.


“We had some good looks early and weren’t able to knock those down,” said Miller, whose team shot just 38 percent for the game. “And conversely, they (the Pointers) came out and hit some early shots, which kind of set the tone for them.”


Whitewater was able to withstand the Pointers onslaught briefly in the second half with a 16-1 run that pushed it ahead 45-40. Warhawk forward Luke Knoble led the charge scoring eight of his 10 points during that stretch.


Alex Merg and Alex Edmonds also had 11 and 10 points, respectively, but Whitewater’s key contributor, Chris Davis, only managed 10 points, 14 below his season average.


“Chris clearly didn’t have his timing tonight with the knee injury,” Miller said. “Chris didn’t practice for a week and clearly timing-wise and conditioning-wise, it was an issue for him.”


The Pointers took full advantage of the Warhawk star’s’ injury with consecutive three-pointers from Dan Tillema and Joe Ritchay. Those baskets put the visitors back on top, 46-45, with nine minutes to play.


Stevens Point never let up from there and outscored Whitewater, 15-5, during the next five minutes to lead, 61-50, with 3:50 left.


Whitewater got as close as five twice, but never drew closer.


“It felt like a game where we were playing catch-up and finally made that run to go up 45-40,” Miller said. “We did get a little tired in the second half, which is always a danger when you spend so much energy coming back.”


The Pointers had the upper hand for most of the first half as well. After Whitewater gained a 19-17 lead early in the first, Stevens Point unleashed an 18-5 run en route to a 35-26 halftime lead.


“This was just a game where they (Stevens Point) flat out beat us,” Miller said.


STEVENS POINT 71, WHITEWATER 60

Stevens Point (71)—T. Tillema, 6-4-16; Giordana, 3-0-8; D. Tillema, 3-4-11; Hass, 3-4-12; Brezinski, 5-3-13; Ryf, 1-2-4; Ritchay, 1-0-3; Ziemer, 1-0-2; Richard, 1-0-2. Totals: 24-17-71.


Whitewater (60)—Young, 0-2-2; Odegaard, 2-2-8; Knoble, 3-4-10; Bryson, 3-0-7; Edmunds, 4-3-11; Merg, 2-7-12; Davis, 4-0-10. Totals: 18-18-60.


UW-Stevens Point 35 36—71


UW-Whitewater 26 34—60


Three-point goals—Stevens Point 6 (Hass 2, Giordana 2, D. Tillema, Ritchay), Whitewater 6 (Davis 2, Odegaard 2, Bryson, Merg). rebounds—Stevens Point 30 (Brezinski 11), Whitewater 29 (Davis 8). Free throws missed—Stevens Point 3, Whitewater 5. Total fouls—Stevens Point 19, Whitewater 20. Fouled out—Bryson.


Attendance—1,216.



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