Minus its best player, Point pulls away from UW-Whitewater
WHITEWATER UW-Stevens Point men's basketball coach Bob Semling told his team that conference championships are won in late February.
That didn't mean the Pointers couldn't send a powerful message to its biggest rival in December.
UW-Stevens Point not only defeated defending Division III national champion UW-Whitewater, 72-61, here Wednesday night, it did it without its best player, Tyler Tillema. After Tillema left the game late in the first half with an injury, the Pointers surprisingly dominated the second half and ended second-ranked Whitewater's 13-game winning streak.
"When Tyler went down, it seemed to energize our guys," Semling said. "It did just the opposite of what maybe fans might think would happen."
Point's effort certainly impressed UW-Whitewater head coach Pat Miller.
"You have to get Point a lot of credit," Miller said. "I thought for Point to come out the way it did in the second half with Tillema out, who was a big factor in the first half, is really a testament to them."
Whitewater appeared to be ready to take advantage of Tillema's absence. Darnell Harris' three-pointer with 2 seconds left in the first half cut the Pointer lead to just 30-28 at half.
Eric Bryson drew Whitewater even 30-30 to start the second half with a runner in the lane.
But for whatever reason, the game's momentum violently swung Stevens Point's way. A swift 15-2 run broke the game open in the Pointers favor, 45-32, with 14:10 left to play.
Pointer guard Trevor Hass led the way with 14 of his 18 points in the second half. Whitewater, meanwhile, had a coinciding second-half cold spell.
The Warhawks made just 2 of 14 three-point attempts in the second half and just seven of 16 free throws.
"Our shot selection was horrible," Miller said. "I thought it was just a selfish effort on our part. We settled for what was easy and that was to take quick perimeter shots and obviously we didn't make them.
"We missed our first five free throws of the second half and after that I stopped keeping track because it was depressing."
The first half was a little less depressing for Whitewater. After both teams battled back and forth for the lead most of the first half, Whiteawater closed out the half with a 5-0 run.
Bryson led the way with six of his team-high 15 points, while Harris added 10. But Whitewater couldn't hold its momentum and eventually walked off the court eagerly waiting its next shot at Stevens Point on Jan. 23.
"Remember, we beat Whitewater here last year and then beat them in Stevens Point, and then they went on to win a national championship," Semling said. "So this win doesn't mean a whole lot."
Regardless of the size of the win, the Pointers certainly sent a message.
STEVENS POINT 72, WHITEWATER 61
Stevens Point (72)—Ryf, 7-1-18; Hass, 6-5-18; Tilema, 5-0-10; Heuer, 3-2-8; Ritchey, 2-0-4; Lutz, 3-4-11; Richard, 0-2-2; Studer, 0-1-1. Totals: 26-15-72.
Whitewater (61)—Bryson, 5-2-15; Harris, 4-0-10; Young, 4-1-9; Knoble, 4-0-8; Odegaard, 1-1-3; Evans, 3-2-8; Merg, 1-2-4; Heam, 2-0-4. Totals: 24-8-61.
UW-Stevens Point 30 42—72
UW-Whitewater 28 33—61
Three-point goals—Stevens Point 5 (Ryf 3, Lutz, Hass), Whitewater 5 (Bryson 3, Harris 2). Rebounds—Stevens Point 36 (Heuer 9), Whitewater 27 (Knoble 6). Free throws missed—Stevens Point 5, Whitewater 11. Total fouls—Stevens Point 19, Whitewater 27.