Hoopers in battle for second place in WIAC

Josh Sinclair, Senior Staff Writer

Feb. 15, 2017

The No. 18 ranked UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team split a pair of conference opponents last week leaving them steady at second in WIAC standings.

The Warhawks started the week with a nail biting victory at UW-Stevens Point before dropping a close one at UW-River Falls.

“Playing these close games will help us in the future,” head coach Pat Miller said. “With players missing action, or having limited action due to sickness, it’s forced other players to play more significant roles. I also believe this will help us in future games.”

On Feb. 8, UW-Whitewater rallied late for a 56-55 victory after trailing the Pointers by seven early in the second half.

The ’Hawks chipped away at the lead over the course of eight minutes of gameplay and eventually took a 46-45 advantage after a layup by junior forward Demetrius Woodley.

The Pointers retook control,
taking a 52-51 lead with 2:36, at which point senior guard Drew Bryson converted a layup to give the Warhawks a one-point lead with 2:13 on the clock.

After forcing a miss on the other end, sophomore guard Andre Brown made a layup with 1:34 remaining to make it 55-52.

“We have the ability to switch a lot of screening situations making us better overall defensively,” Miller said. “We have a bunch of physical defenders that can guard multiple positions.”

The Pointers came down the court and responded with a 3-pointer on the next possession to tie the contest at the 1:09 mark.

The two teams exchanged turnovers in the waning moments, highlighted by junior forward Demetrius Woodley picking up a steal with nine seconds to play and drawing a foul two seconds later.

Woodley missed the first before converting the second, and UW-Stevens Point missed the potential go-ahead shot on the other end as UW-Whitewater improved to 5-1 in true road games for the year.

Brown led the Warhawks with 14 points, and Derek Rongstad finished with a double-double with 12 points and a team-best 11 rebounds. Senior forward Cole Van Schyndel tallied 13 points off the bench, and Woodley racked up six points, eight rebounds and four steals.

The second contest of the week took place in River Falls, Wisconsin where the Warhawks fell at the talons of the Falcons 68-63.

The Warhawks held the lead with 11:21 to play but were unable to hold on to close out the game.

A three-point play by Rongstad brought UW-Whitewater within one score with only eight seconds left, but UW-River Falls hit a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining to seal the contest.

Junior forward Scotty Tyler collected 16 points and three steals in just 17 minutes of action. Rongstad tallied his second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Brown posted 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

The Warhawks were out rebounded 43-34 and were outscored 15-6 at the free-throw line.

“River Falls has good balance,” Miller said. “They have experienced physical frontline players, a very good point guard who runs their offense extremely well and enough shooting on the perimeter to make them difficult to defend.”

The two teams traded the lead for the opening portion of the first half.  The Falcons posted an 11-2 run starting at the 8:52 mark of the period to take a 28-20 advantage, which ended up being the largest of the game.

The two teams exchanged buckets before Brown hit a pair of free throws in the final moments of the half to bring UW-Whitewater within 34-28 at the break.

The Warhawks opened the second half on a 14-4 run, highlighted by a run of eight straight points by Tyler, to take a 42-38 lead.

UW-River Falls tallied 18 points over the final 4:30 of regulation to emerge with the win.

The Warhawks return home for two games during the final week of the regular season, beginning at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 against