Basketball goes cold after hot win


Nick Walczak

Whitewater wins the opening game tipoff against Olivet on December 10, 2022 in Kachel Gymnasium. (left to right) Delvin Barnstable, Carter Capstran, Trevon Chisolm, Miles Barnstable, and Jameer Barker.

Parker Olsen, Men’s Sports Editor

The UW-Whitewater (13-6, 4-4 WIAC) was handed their sixth loss of the season and fourth loss in WIAC play when they took on UW-River Falls (9-10, 3-5 WIAC) in Kachel Gymnasium, Saturday, Jan. 21. The Warhawks  lost 76-59. 

Whitewater trailed from the beginning having only held a lead, for less than a minute, early on in the game. After just over four minutes of play the Warhawks trailed 6-5, signaling a long defensive battle was in the works. 

By halftime Whitewater trailed 34-28 with a spark of hope after a JT Hoytink buzzer beater jump shot ended the half. Despite the close score, the Warhawks were getting beat not just on the scoreboard. The team was out-rebounded by 12 in the first half and they were unable to capitalize on opportunities of their own.

“We didn’t shoot well. We had some really bad turnovers,” head coach Pat Miller said. “In the first half they were in foul trouble, they certainly had players in that hadn’t played a lot. That was an opportunity for us to take control of the game, not only did we not do that but we were outscored down the stretch in that first half.”

The Warhawks’ woes worsened in the second half, their glimpse at taking a lead slipped away and River Falls pulled ahead by as many as 22 points. At the final buzzer Whitewater was outplayed in many statistical categories. Turnovers were in the negatives, as were rebounds, and second chance points.

“Those second chance points killed us, we didn’t finish well inside. As a result they did a good job taking the inside away, we had a lot of good looks at threes and we had good looks and we just couldn’t make them,” Miller said.

Whitewater made just three of their 22 shots from beyond the arc, and 38% from the field. What had been a good defensive game in the first half turned out to be a good offensive showing for River Falls. The Falcons shot 48% from the field and 46% from three point range. 

Jameer Barker, Warhawks start guard, who scored 14 points and brought down five rebounds, attributed their struggles to River Falls ability to take away a threat in the paint. 

“Lately we’ve been getting the ball inside to open up the whole court but we couldn’t get the ball in a lot so I think that’s why we struggled. We couldn’t get the ball in and play off that,” Barker said.

The lack of an inside threat hurt not just the Whitewater offense but the defense as well. They were out rebounded on both ends of the court and allowed 19 second chance points to just eight of their own. River Falls scored 36 points in the paint compared to just 22 from Whitewater.

“For rebounds we have to give props to them because they were hustling, we have to work on that. Making sure that we pursue the ball and be more aggressive as a team,” Barker said.

After what was a great 85-65 win in Platteville earlier in the week, Whitewater failed to find their stride against River Falls and it cost them. Miller attributes the lack of consistency to their youth and he knows as well as anyone how costly a lack of intensity and preparation can be.

“Young players don’t understand how hard and prepared you have to play each and every night regardless of what the record is, especially in a conference like ours. A no-show is a recipe not only to lose but to lose how we did tonight,” Miller said.

The Warhawks will look to get back on track Wednesday, Jan. 25 at UW-La Crosse, the second place team in the WIAC and only team in the conference currently in the top 25. Whitewater returns to Kachel Gymnasium Wednesday Feb. 1 to take on UW-Stevens Point.