Ranked UW-W heads to postseason

Ranked+UW-W+heads+to+postseason

Tyler Job, Staff Writer

As the 17th ranked UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team heads to the WIAC tournament as the No. 3 seed, UW-W had an up-and-down final week of play. The team fell to UW-Oshkosh 67-63 Feb. 15, but rebounded with a 70-68 overtime win over UW-Eau Claire Feb. 18 on Senior Day.

Despite leading most of the contest, UW-W got out to a 31-26 halftime lead against UW-O and extended its lead to 11 with just over 15 minutes remaining in regulation.

But, the Titans stormed back with a 14-2 run to lead 44-43, and the Warhawks were not be able to maintain the lead after that.

UW-W head coach Pat Miller said it was poor free throw shooting towards the end that was an issue.

“You have to make those in close games,” Miller said. “We’ve been up-and-down from a free throw perspective all year, more so down than up in close games and those are the difference.”

Miller also noted defensive woes were a problem.

“Our back side was non-existent,” Miller said. “They got a layup and they were able to keep scoring.”

UW-W shot 34.5 percent from the field but just made two out of 14 three pointers.

Junior guard Chris Jones led all UW-W scoring with 23 points and four rebounds, while junior forward Scotty Tyler added 10 points and seven rebounds.

“I really just try to go there and hopefully try to get the team the win but we just didn’t come out today,” Jones said.

Against UW-EC, UW-W held the Blugolds to 25.9 percent shooting en route to an eight-point first half lead.

UW-EC’s shooting began to heat up in the second half and exchanged the lead with UW-W multiple times.

’Hawks sophomore forward Derek Rongstad’s clutch three-point play near the end was a large reason why the ’Hawks stayed in it.

“He was more aggressive in the second half, and he is also a very good defender,” Miller said. “He rebounds very well for his size and gives us some offense that makes us more effective as a team overall.”

The Warhawks shot just 25 percent from the field in the extra period, but solid free throw shooting from Rongstad and Jones (10-12 for the  team) propelled the team to eventual victory.

Jones led all scorers with 19 points, while Rongstad, Tyler, and sophomore guard Andre Brown added 17, 13, and 11 points, respectively. All of Rongstad’s 17 points came in the second half.

As UW-W heads to the playoffs once again, Coach Miller remains optimistic.

“This team has battled, and they’ve got better,” Miller said. “But we still don’t believe we’ve come close to playing to our potential.”

The WIAC Tournament has been around for 19 years, and Whitewater will appear in its 19th tournament as the No. 3 seed.

UW-W hosted the sixth seeded UW-Stout Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in Kachel Gymnasium. To find out how the ’Hawks did, visit royalpurplenews.com for updated coverage.

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