Time to get tough.
That's the message UW-Whitewater men's basketball coach Pat Miller gave his team after UW-Stevens Point overwhelmed the Warhawks in the second half of their WIAC showdown.
After trailing by eight points at the half, the Pointers outscored second-ranked Whitewater by 14 the rest of the way to seize the 75-69 victory Wednesday night at Kachel Gymnasium.
David Sachs, Mitchell Pfeifer, and Andre Brown each had 13 points, while Marquis Tuner added 11 in a losing cause for Whitewater (13-3, 3-2) which fell two games behind Stevens Point (11-5, 5-0) in conference play.
“We have told our guys repeatedly that we don’t have a margin to make mistakes,” Miller said. “We have to do the all those little things. I don’t think it’s a fatigue issue. At this point I would question it as more of a toughness issue.”
The Pointers proved to be the tougher team in the second half, unleashing a blistering 14-4 run to take a 45-43 lead.
East Troy High graduate and Army transfer Nate Dodge led the surge, scoring 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, sinking four of his five 3-point attempts.
“We were trying to find our identity as a team in the first half,” Dodge said. “In the second half, I really didn’t think about offense as much because we gave up so much points, so I think our defense sparked our offense.”
Whitewater was able to stay within a basket for a large portion of the second half until a near six-minute drought that started at the eight-minute mark enabled Point to make its move with a 12-1 spurt.
Dodge delivered the crucial blow with a long 3-pointer from the Dave Vander Meulen logo on the court to make it 70-57 with under three minutes to play.
“We have to have better ball movement in these situations and have to take better shots in those situations,” Warhawks guard Andre Brown said. “On that 12-1 run, we did a poor job getting good shots and it became our detriment."
Whitewater cut the deficit to six with four seconds left behind 7 straight points from Janesville Craig product Jerry Ngobi. But it was too little too late.
“We really wanted to come out in the second half and have a lot of movement and a lot of activity offensively, and first possession we turned it over after one pass and second possession we took a step-back 3,” Miller said. “It just set a bad tone for the entire half.”
The Warhawks had a much better tone in the first half, shooting 61 percent from the field en route to a 37-23 lead.
Stevens Point responded with eight quick points to help cut the deficit to 39-31 at halftime. Point maintained its momentum for the entire second half and came away with a clutch victory.
Whitewater travels to play UW-La Crosse on Saturday.