Men’s basketball struggles continue


Morgan Guenther

Freshman guard Derek Gray makes a drive toward the basket in hopes to cause a foul during their home game against the University of Wisconsin – River Falls Feb. 5, 2022.

Parker Olsen, Sports Editor

The UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team (12-9, 5-5 WIAC) was defeated by UW-River Falls (11-8, 4-6 WIAC) with a final score of 67-69 in overtime at Kachel Gymnasium in the Williams Center, Saturday Feb 5. The Warhawks honored their three seniors, Jack Brahm, Durian Conaghan and Paul Kingsley prior to the game as part of Senior Night.

“[Brahm] had a solid game. Every year he has improved, he is a guy that really knows his role,” head coach Pat Miller said. “He’s been a guy that has been a pleasure to coach and a great kid. Certainly someone that we are going to miss in a lot of respects, personally and what he is for the team as well as obviously the basketball element of it.”

The senior Jack Brahm entered the game averaging 10 points per game and shooting 59.9% from the field. He has started in all but three games this season.

“Senior Day is pretty surreal. It feels like just yesterday I had my high school senior day, it really does go by fast but we still have three more regular season games so I am just trying to enjoy every moment. I love this group of guys,” Brahm said.

Whitewater sought revenge after the Falcons handed them a loss in River Falls earlier in the season. That loss was the first of what is now a stretch of losing five of the last six games for the Warhawks, after they started the season 11-4 overall, 4-0 in the WIAC.

The game started neck and neck, tied at seven after the first five minutes, however River Falls pulled ahead and led for nearly the entirety of the remainder of the first half. The teams entered the locker room at halftime with the Warhawks trailing 25-32.

In the second half the Warhawks mounted a comeback. Shooting 43.3% from the field in the second half and holding River Falls to 37% shooting, Whitewater tied the game with under four minutes remaining in regulation. Derek Gray hit a hookshot with just 46 seconds left to go ahead by two, however River Falls was able to tie the game as Bryce Phillips knocked down two free throws with just 29 seconds remaining. The game went to overtime tied at 60.

“I didn’t think we played very well in the first half. I thought in the second half we were significantly better,” Miller said. “I thought we competed better in the second half, I thought offensively we were better.” 

Trevon Chisolm opened the overtime scoring with 3:42 remaining, putting the Warhawks ahead by two. After two lead changes River Falls tied and then took the lead with a three-point-play by Regan Merritt. Whitewater failed to convert one last shot attempt before fouling, then heaving a full court shot which hit the ceiling as time expired.

“It was a tight game, a lot of balls that could have gone either way. A lot of the 50/50 balls didn’t go our way. They’re a good team with good players, it’s a tough loss that could have gone either way,” said freshman Carter Capstran, who had 13 points and six rebounds.

“Unfortunately we just did not shoot the ball well the entire night,” Miller said. “The fact that we shot 37% for the game and still had a chance was a positive for us because that means we defended a lot better than we have in the last couple games.”

The Warhawks have been troubled by poor shooting for weeks. They shot 38.9% in their first loss to River Falls and allowed their opponents to shoot almost 55%, the final score ws 60-76. The young team is enduring a rough patch that Miller hopes the team can learn from and find a more consistent game, as a team and as individual players.

“We’ve had some really good stretches, we’ve had some stretches where we’ve really struggled. I thought over the last four or five games we haven’t made much progress. There have been a lot of the same mistakes and the same type of runs. I thought tonight we actually made some progress, especially in the second half,” Miller said. “We have to keep making progress, we’re young so we have to build and continue to learn.”

Miller talked about how the team needs to play a full game well, rather than just play well for a portion of the game.

“We have to be more engaged early, we have to play harder early. We can’t play 25 good minutes of basketball and expect to win in our conference,” Miller said. “We have been wildly inconsistent player to player… we have to get guys at a more consistent level game in and game out.”

Whitewater will play two road games before returning home for their final regular season game as they host No. 5 UW-Oshkosh wednesday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m.