Men’s basketball holds ground against MSOE


Ky McCombe

Freshman guard Derek Gray (4) takes a brief breather before getting back into the game Saturday evening Nov. 27, 2021.

Parker Olsen, Sports Editor

The UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team (3-2) took on the Milwaukee School of Engineering (5-2) at Kachel Gymnasium in the Williams Center on Nov. 27. The team got out to an early lead and held their ground, taking a 71-63 victory. 

Whitewater started the game with a nine point run and never looked back. Their lead would hold for the entire game, MSOE never brought the game back within less than five points however they did close the margin after having trailed by as many as 17. The Warhawks were able to ward off the comeback attempts however the game was not perfect.

“Going up 17 and then having them come back to 7 at halftime, you just can’t do that,” said Head Coach Pat Miller. “During that stretch were bad shots, quick shots, perimeter shots, we have to understand the value of a possession and we have to do a better job getting deeper into possessions. When we did that we got great shots.”

Most would be happy with having won a game, especially being proud of having never trailed, Miller felt otherwise. He mentioned things that the team struggled with, he talked about not extending leads and allowing MSOE to come back and make it a close game.

“We settled for some poor three-point attempts, I would classify them as,” said Miller. “We had a couple turnovers where we got ourselves into bad positions. With this team we do some things really well but we have to limit the mistakes.”

The Warhawks were highlighted by strong defense in the second half, with 18 defensive rebounds and holding MSOE down to just 21% from the three-point line. The Warhawks were assisted by high scoring players in the second half. Freshman guard Derek Gray scored 17 points in the second half after just two points in the first. Sophomore guard Gage Malensek joined Gray as the Warhawks’ leading scores, as the only two finished in double figures.

“The team needed me, in the first half I got into some foul trouble so my focus in the second half was coming out and making the smartest plays to provide the best outcome for my team,” said Gray. “Last game we got a little selfish and we were not taking the best shots, this game our main focus was just to hold our lead and take smart shots.”

Both Gray and Miller talked about playing smart, using the whole shot clock to take a good shot rather than forcing a fast poor shot. The team, led by a roster filled with freshmen and sophomores, accompanied by just three upperclassmen, has things to work on.

“It’s good (having such young players), I like them and they work hard but it is frustrating  because there is a lot they just don’t understand,” said Miller. “How to manage a game, understanding we are up 17 and having to make a good possession. We called a timeout and I said, `look, we just need to get deeper into a possession and don’t make a nonsense play.’”

MSOE was led by leading scorer Michael Pitrof who accounted for 24 of the Raiders points, 16 of which came in the second half. They posted just under 40% shooting while the Warhawks shot 50.9% from the field. 

This game was similar to the game played earlier in the week, Whitewater led by double digits however end results varied. On Wednesday Nov. 23 the Warhawks lost at Viterbo University in La Crosse by a score of 86-77 after leading by as many as 15 points. This time around the Warhawks held their ground and were able to secure the win at home.

On Wednesday Dec. 1 the Warhawks will be back in action to begin conference play as they take on UW-Stevens Point at Kachel Gymnasium in the Williams Center at 7:00 pm.