Hoopers win fifth in a row

Justin St. Peter, Sports Editor

Feb. 1, 2017

After a quick stumble during the first few WIAC games without the UW-Whitewater men’s basketball leading scorer, junior guard Chris Jones, the ’Hawks have turned the tide and tallied five straight victories.

The ’Hawks began the week with an 80-74 victory against UW-Stevens Point before ending the week with a 67-62 victory on the road against UW-La Crosse.

After the early stumble, the ’Hawks have ridden hot starts in four of the five games in the winning streak. The offense attack has surely been lifted after the re-emergence of Jones into the lineup following an
ankle injury.

Per the usual during the streak, the ’Hawks jumped out to an early 13-4 lead in the UW-Stevens Point contest before letting the Pointers back into the game, leading 38-34 at halftime.

The ’Hawks exerted the team’s dominance in the paint, outscoring Pointers 38-22. The Pointers were able to hit seven three-pointers to keep pace while the ’Hawks were pounding the ball inside.

Trading baskets for much of the second half, UW-W busted out a 9-0 run after the Pointers had reclaimed the lead 62-60 with 6:29

Turning a weakness into a strength, UW-W was able to salt the game away at the free-throw line, going 7-8 in the final 40 seconds and 20-23 for the game. UW-W entered the game last in the conference in free-throw percentage at 68.7 percent from the line as a team.

Jones was once again the leading scorer for the ’Hawks, posting a team-high 22 points and five assists.

Junior forward Demetrius Woodley posted his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Contrary to the narrative, the ’Hawks did not come into the game firing on all cylinders, trailing 10-0 to the home team not even three minutes into the contest.

UW-W began the comeback by once again pounding the ball in the paint before Jones hit the team’s first three-pointer of the contest to tie the game at 15 halfway through the first half.

Neither team gained an advantage through a back and forth first half that featured six ties before UW-W finished the half on a 7-0 run to take a 42-35 lead to the break.

The ’Hawks hit five three-pointers and shot a scorching 55.6 percent from the field in the first half.

In the second half, the Eagles scratched and clawed its way back into the game, carving out a 50-50 tie with 11:24 left in the second half.

The game remained a one possession battle before a short Woodley jumper gave the ’Hawks a 60-58 lead they would not relinquish.

Jones went to the line with the opportunity to make it a two-possession game with 31 seconds left, but split the pair of free throws, giving the Eagles a chance down 65-62.

The Eagles missed a three-pointer and then UW-W was fouled. Woodley strode to the line and missed the front end of a 1 and 1 situation, but he was bailed out when the Eagles committed a turnover and Jones made a layup as time expired to give the game its final score.

Jones scored 20 of his team-high 25 points in the first half.

Sophomore guard/forward Derek Rongstad helped out the Warhawks cause, compiling 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.

Going forward, if the ’Hawks can make late game free throws and continue to have balanced scoring around Jones, the team will be a force to be reckoned with come March.

For now, head coach Pat Miller and fans will probably settle with climbing out of a second place tie with UW-Oshkosh in the WIAC standings at 5-3 in conference, and with some help from other teams, to first place eventually.