Jan. 21, 2015 By Ryan Altman
The UW-Whitewater men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams opened the second half of their respective seasons last weekend with a mixed bag of results.
After a month-long layoff of competition for both teams, the ’Hawks left Wichita, Kan. with a combined five wins and four losses.
The men (16-5 overall) began Friday by avenging a late November 59-53 loss at the hands of the University of Texas-Arlington.
Senior Derrick Bisnett scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the ’Hawks in a 58-54 victory. Freshman Kyle Gribble added 19 points.
“I think overall, we had a much better team effort not only [against UT-A], but this weekend, than we’ve had in the past,” Bisnett said. “We passed the ball really well and everyone on the team contributed.”
The ’Hawks also suffered its only loss of the tournament on Friday at the hands of the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). Four ’Hawks reached double figures, but could not overcome a 13-point halftime deficit, falling 79-69.
Bisnett finished with a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds. Junior Guthrie Linquist added 13 points.
Although the result wasn’t ideal, head coach Jeremy Lade was pleased with the secondary scoring assistance from the back end of the lineup.
“We were getting contributions from our fourth and fifth guys, so there were plenty of options,” Lade said. “We don’t want to say we lost because of just one or two guys either.”
The ’Hawks also added a pair of victories Saturday. Bisnett and senior John Piazza led the ’Hawks with 18 points each against University of Alabama (63-43), while Gribble paced the team with 17 points versus Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (72-43).
“Overall, we played really well as a team, and although we still have a lot to work on, we are headed in the right direction,” Bisnett said.
This season has been a bit of a struggle so far for the ’Hawks, after dropping four of five games in 2014, the ’Hawks (2-7 overall) left Wichita last weekend with only one victory in four games.
In their first game on Friday against the University of Illinois, the ’Hawks committed 15 turnovers en route to a 53-47 loss.
“That’s one of the things being such a young team will do to you,” head coach Dan Price said. “We weren’t taking care of the basketball.”
Junior Mariska Beijer recorded a double-double, finishing with a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Jillian Host added 16 points.
The ’Hawks returned to the court in the afternoon to face University of Texas-Arlington. Beijer scored 36 points and Host flirted with a triple-double (12 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asst), but the ’Hawks fell to the Movin’ Mavs for a third time this season, 63-50.
The women wrapped up Friday night against University of Alabama, whose roster included former ’Hawk Brittany Gustafson. The ’Hawks’ defense limited the Crimson Tide to 31 percent from the field, but it wasn’t enough as they suffered a 46-26 setback.
Seniors Lydia Sprain scored 9 pts and Rachel Nepper added 13 rebounds which led the ’Hawks offensively.
The ’Hawks rebounded from Friday’s loss on Saturday versus UT-A with a 54-49 victory over the Mavs.
“[All of the coaches] challenged the ladies on Friday night,” Price said. “We said ‘go home and feel sorry for yourselves or go out there and learn from our experiences’.”
Beijer recorded another double-double (27 pts, 13 rebs), Host added 15 points and Nepper contributed eight points and eight rebounds.
Despite the rough start to the season, Beijer still sees a lot of promise in the team and has tried to keep everyone positive.
“Our program has been built on hard work and trust,” Beijer said. “We have showed that we can play great, but we have to be able to play great the full length of the game. We have showed that we can do it against UTA and Illinois, as long as we do the little things.”