Warhawks win sixth straight

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Dec. 10, 2014 By Paul Bressler

The No. 1-ranked UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team will face another huge early season test as they prepare for the No. 4-ranked Augustana Vikings at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 in Rock Island, Ill.

“It’s a good test,” head coach Pat Miller said. “This is another game going into a hostile environment against a very good team with experienced players, a team we played in the NCAA Tournament. This is a great measuring stick for us to see how we can do down there on the road and prepare us for our conference games.”

The two teams last met in the round of 32 in the D-III NCAA Tournament last year. The Warhawks (6-0, 2-0) cruised to an 87-68 victory in the second half.

Senior guard Quardell Young entered the history books while the ’Hawks took care of business at home with its eight consecutive victory over the UW-Platteville Pioneers 76-60 on Dec. 6 and the team’s sixth consecutive win.

Young eclipsed 1,000 career points following an and-one at the 11:43 mark in the first half. He became just the 27th player in the program’s history to accomplish the career feat.

“It’s definitely an honoring accolade, but it’s not really my primary focus,” Young said. “I’m really excited to be able to hit that mark. I’m very humbled about it, but the goal is to win a national championship.”

The ’Hawks led the Pioneers 39-28 at the half.

The second half saw the ’Hawks jump out to a 54-35 lead following senior forward KJ Evans jumper at the 13:01 mark. The Pioneers responded by cutting the deficit to 14 points with 12 minutes left.

The ’Hawks answered with six quick points from Evans and junior guard Xzavier Moananu to push its lead back up to 20, 60-40, with 11:20 remaining. Including back-to-back 3-pointers, the Pioneers went on a late 8-0 run to trim the lead to 11 with about six minutes left.

That would be the closest Platteville would come to threatening. Moananu put the finishing touches on the game following five straight points and a 19-point lead with under two to play.

“Before we came in, Coach (Miller) was saying we had to be the aggressors,” Young said. “We lost our home opener, so we wanted to redeem ourselves at home. We got on them pretty early. Our defense was pretty solid at first.

Young totaled 12 points, four assists and five steals for the game. Evans recorded his second double-double of the season with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Moananu added 14 points and a team-high 12 boards while Patten finished with 11 and five in 22 minutes off the bench.

The ’Hawks opened WIAC play with its 11th consecutive victory over the UW-Oshkosh Titans 78-59 on Dec. 3 at Kolf Sports Center.

Head coach Pat Juckem is in his second season at the helm of UW-Oshkosh.

“He’s doing a great job there,” Miller said. “I think as the game went on our athleticism and our quickness broke them down, and we were able to extend our lead late in the game, but he definitely has it moving in the right direction. The momentum is swinging.”

Tied at six, Moananu connected from deep to give the ’Hawks its second lead of the game, a mere five minutes into the first half.

Young increased the ’Hawks’ lead to nine points, 38-29, at the 4:41 mark after he drained one from downtown. The team’s largest lead of the first half was 11.

The Titans (4-2, 0-1) responded strongly to open up the second half. They narrowed the gap to just three, 49-46, following a layup at 12:30.

The ’Hawks answered with a 3-pointer by Evans and then a layup by Young to push its lead back up to eight, 54-46, with about 10 minutes left in the game.

The Titans cut its deficit to five at the 8:41 mark but couldn’t get any closer. The ’Hawks closed the last eight minutes of the game on a 15-6 run.

“I felt that we started pretty slow,” Young said. “Obviously we’re not at the point where we feel like we could be. We have a lot of potential on our team, and we’re still in the process of putting it together. We played the last eight minutes how we should have played the entire 40.”

Evans led all scorers with a season-high 23 points while adding eight rebounds and a blocked shot. Young had an efficient 16 points (7-11) to go along with seven assists and a career-high six steals. He finished the game three points shy of 1,000 for his career.

Moananu and junior forward Ron Patten provided a spark off the bench. Patten tallied 12 points and six rebounds while Moananu posted 13 and six.

“I feel good that we’re winning games, and I feel good that this team is so far from its potential,” Miller said. “It’s a great situation to have, because we have so many things we can work on so many areas we can improve upon. We’re playing better. Ron Patten is new. Xzavier [Moananu] is new. Even though we have a great nucleus we have a lot of guys around them that it’s a newer experience for. We’re developing as a team.”

(Editor’s note: At the time of publication, Augustana was ranked No. 1 and the Warhawks were ranked No. 3. We have updated the rankings in this article.)

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