Strong first half leads UW-Stevens Point to victory in top-eight battle
STEVENS POINT, Wis. - The top-ranked UW-Stevens Point men's basketball team built a 20-point halftime lead and went on to top No. 8 UW-Whitewater 79-67 in a top-10 showdown on Wednesday night at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse.
Trevor Hass scored 20 points and shot 6-for-10 from behind the arc to lead the Pointers (6-0, 2-0 WIAC) to a win in their debut as the top-ranked team in the country. Tyler Tillema added 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds. UW-Whitewater was led by 24 points from KJ Evans, who shot 12-for-14 at the free-throw line.
UW-Stevens Point trailed 9-5 early but then used a 29-5 run over a period of nearly 10 minutes to build a 34-14 lead at the 5:27 mark of the opening half. The run was keyed by seven points each from Austin Ryf and Alex Richard. The Pointers led by as many as 23 in the first half and took a 42-22 lead into the locker room. The UWSP bench outscored UWW's 13-0 before halftime.
The Warhawks (5-2, 0-2 WIAC) came out of the break strong, scoring the first 10 points of the second half, led by six points from Quardell Young. The Pointers responded with a 10-1 run of their own to stretch the lead back to 19 with 14:30 to go.
In a second half filled with runs, UW-Whitewater came right back and cut the UWSP lead to single digits for the first time since the 8:32 mark of the first half. Evans scored all ten of the UWW points in the 10-0 run that spanned 1:53 and he had 19 points in the second half.
Threes by Tillema and Hass quickly got the lead back to double figures for the Pointers, who then held a double-digit lead until the final 80 seconds of the game. UW-Stevens Point extended its lead to as many as 20 with 4:07 remaining, after eight points by Hass in a little over a minute of game time.
Trailing by 20, UW-Whitewater made one last run in the closing minutes. The Warhawks forced four UWSP turnovers in just over two minutes to trim the lead to eight with 1:15 to play. During the spurt, Evans made a pair of layups and Eric Bryson hit two threes but UW-Stevens Point held off UW-Whitewater over the last 75 seconds. The Warhawks outscored the Pointers 19-6 in points off turnovers and 20-8 in the paint in the second half.
UW-Stevens Point shot 50.0 percent (26-for-52) in the game, including 53.6 percent in the first half. After shooting 35.0 percent in the first half, the Warhawks shot at a 51.9 percent clip after the break. The Pointers outscored the Warhawks 36-12 on threes, led by Hass' six makes and outrebounded UWW 35-26.