Men’s hoops beat Blue Devils

Gray gets gritty


Ky McCombe

Junior forward Jack Brahm (24) pushes against the opposing team and makes his way towards the hoop, Fall 2021.

Mikey Rottier, Sports Journalist

Derek Gray and the UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team improved to 5-2 Saturday Dec. 4 after a win against Lovelle Williams and UW-Stout. It was an intense physical battle from the opening tip, but Whitewater was able to bring home a solid victory beating the Stout Blue Devils 92-76 at Kachel Gymnasium in the Williams Center. 

Whitewater recorded their second Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) win against Stout after kicking off their conference play earlier in the week on Wednesday against UW-Stevens Point with an 83-70 win. 

Freshman guard Derek Gray had a career day, scoring 30 with a red hot 50% from the field in addition to 8 rebounds and 3 steals. The emotions were high all game and it fueled Gray’s scoring spree, helping him lead Whitewater’s offensive charge. Gray stepped up to the challenge and got gritty with three fouls and didn’t let Stout’s chirping get the best of him. 

“Personally I love those types of games, when people are talking and there is a lot of energy in the atmosphere and people are loud and alive, I love it,” said Gray. “That just makes me play even harder.”

 Whitewater came out hot with junior forward Breontae Hunt scoring seven of his ten points in the first three minutes of the game setting the tone for the Warhawks. Gage Malensek also played a big part in the Warhawks early advantage scoring all 16 of his points in the first half. 

Whitewater had four players in double digit scoring, spreading the love on offense. In addition to Gray, Hunt, and Malensek, junior forward Jack Brahm finished the game with 18 points. Being able to move the ball and get a number of players involved on the offensive side, gives a good look at the way Whitewater has been meshing well together as a team. Gray attributes the team’s recent success with, to keep it simple, teamwork. 

“Mainly we just have really come together as a team, figured out our teammates strengths and weaknesses and executed our strengths to just get the best outcome in each game,” said Gray. 

This has been working for Whitewater as they extend their win streak to three games and continue to build momentum. It is easy to execute strengths for a player like Gray who has many, several of which were on display in his outstanding performance. However he responded humbly when asked to comment, giving his team credit for a portion of his individual success.

“I think really just my teammates getting in the right position, opening up the floor for me a lot. All my shots were falling and I was staying consistent on free throws,” said Gray.

Blue Devil sophomore guard Lovelle Williams was no doubt on Whitewater’s radar, averaging just under 18 points going into Saturday night’s game. Whitewater pressured Williams early. Frustrated, he earned himself a technical foul and was forced to sit for five crucial minutes in the early stages of the game. 

“It was just a minor bump, you know?” said Williams. “I can’t get that tech early, I have to stay on the floor, but I bounced right back, got back and played the same game I would have.”

The Warhawks locked him up in the first half, allowing him an underwhelming five points, but he came out motivated in the second half and tried to take control of the game and find a few holes in the Whitewater defense. He finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. 

“I know I have made a name for myself in the scouting reports so I expect that type of defense coming into every game,” said Williams. “I just have to move better off the ball, use screens better and move faster. That is pretty much it.”

The Warhawks improve to 5-2 now and will play their next game on the road in Lake Forest (IL) on Wednesday Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. Whitewater looks to keep their win streak alive and keep rolling.