BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – For the third time in four games this season, UW-Whitewater forced more than twenty turnovers as the third-ranked Warhawks defeated No. 7 Illinois Wesleyan 71-65 at the Shirk Center on Tuesday. Freshman forward Darnell Harris had 32 points, with 21 in the second half as UW-Whitewater (4-0) overcame a halftime deficit.
Illinois Wesleyan sprinted out to an 8-0 lead, six of those points coming from junior forward Victor Davis. The Titans made that margin stand up for most of the half, with Whitewater eventually whittling the margin to 17-16 at 5:17. The Titans responded by building a 26-19 lead with 2:22 on the clock after a three by freshman point guard Bryce Dolan. Harris and sophomore guard Quardell Young hit back-to-back threes for the Warhawks to pull within one again with 0:53 on the clock. Two free throws gave IWU a 28-25 lead at intermission.
Harris led both teams with 11 points in the half, hitting 3-5 from beyond the arc. Illinois Wesleyan hit 52 percent from the floor in the half while Whitewater shot 38 percent, pounding the boards to a 20-9 advantage, but the Warhawks stayed close by forcing 17 turnovers (while committing seven).
UW-W changed the complexion of the game in a hurry, outscoring IWU 14-2 to open the second half and giving Whitewater its first lead of the game. Junior center Luke Knoble and Harris accounted for all of Whitewater’s points in the run.
The Titans answered with an 11-2 run of their own to tie the score at 41.
Holding a slim 49-48 lead with 7:32 left, Whitewater used a 7-0 run to own some distance at 56-48 with 6:43 on the clock. The Warhawks eventually increased the lead to eleven with just 1:10 left in the game, which proved to be too much to overcome even though the Titans fought back within 69-65, scoring five points in four seconds.
Davis hit a three pointer for the Titans and on the inbounds Whitewater was called for a five second violation. Senior center Kevin Reed took the IWU inbounds pass for a goal. This time on the inbounds pass Whitewater found Luke Knoble on the post route, hit him with a pass and his layup ended the scoring.
IWU committed 25 turnovers, more than any opponent UW-W faced all last year. The turnovers offset the Titans edge on the boards, which ended up 34-21.
Harris’ 32 points is the most by a Warhawk this season, topping the 24 Quardell Young scored against Aurora, and the most since Chris Davis scored 33 in Whitewater’s NCAA III tournament win against Virginia Wesleyan March 10, 2012. Harris hit 6-8 three point shots. Knoble pitched in with 18 points, going 8-9 from the field.