After losing its makeup game on the road to UW-Oshkosh, the Warhawk men’s basketball team split its normal week of competition with a home loss to UW-Stevens Point, followed by a road win against UW-Stout.
UW-W’s standing in the WIAC does not make things easier, however, as it is currently sixth with a 4-8 record.
The Warhawks were standing at 3-7 prior to their game against the Pointers and got blown out in perhaps their most important game of the season by a score of 65-47.
Stevens Point’s lockdown defense forced Whitewater to shoot just 32 percent from the field and 24 percent behind the arc.
“I thought Stevens Point moved exceptionally well,” head coach Pat Miller said. “I thought they were cutting hard, they were very active defensively.”
UW-W turned the ball over 14 times, and had five within the first seven minutes.
Senior guard Derek Rongstad led the Warhawks’ scoring with 10 points in his first home game back after suffering a left hand injury. He had his hand wrapped for the game.
“It felt good to be back on the court,” Rongstad said. “Every game, my hand gets a little closer to 100 percent.”
Senior forward and top leading scorer Melvin Brown Jr. struggled to score all game, tallying eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The Warhawks in general could not afford a shot from anywhere, whether that was below the rim or behind the 3-point line.
“We normally make them [layups] and we should make them because it’s an easy shot,” Brown Jr. said.
The Warhawks rebounded three days later at UW-Stout, giving them a feel-good victory heading into the final two regular season games.
Both teams traded leads throughout the way, but UW-W’s two runs late in each half were the deciding factors.
Whitewater found itself down 21-14 with over eight minutes left in the opening half before responding with a 20-9 run to close it.
The Blue Devils had a 71-66 lead with about four and a half to go, but senior guard Dalton Menke answered with a triple. UW-W proceeded to force a turnover, allowing senior guard Andre Brown to make a layup on the other end.
The Warhawks found themselves down three late, but Menke once again responded with another clutch 3-pointer to tie it at 77 apiece. Brown then connected on a midrange jumper with six seconds left to seal it.
“We have to play with more energy,” Miller said. “We have to take care of the basketball, and we just have to work harder on offense to get better shots.”
Whitewater hosts UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls next week to close the regular season.