Feb. 15, 2009

Courtesy of Wis.-Whitewater

Two games, 450 minutes ... and only one point separates fifth-ranked UW-Whitewater and third ranked UW-Stevens Point.  For the second time this season the teams went into overtime Saturday afternoon, with Whitewater winning 80-78 at the Kachel Gym in Williams Center.  The Pointers won 67-64 in overtime in Stevens Point December 6.

The lead changed hands twenty-two times Saturday.  The largest lead by either team was Whitewater's 31-26 advantage at halftime, and two more times in the first two and a half minutes of the second half.

Bryan Beamish gave the Pointers a 69-65 lead with 2:01 left in regulation.  UW-W guard Tyson Kingsby made it 69-67 with a layup at 1:44.  Senior guard Myles McKay made one of two free throws to edge it closer, 69-68 with 0:38 left, and he tied the game, again making one of two charity tosses with 0:21 left, and the Pointers missed a three-pointer to set up overtime.

Both teams had a lead, and there was the fifteenth, and final, tie of the struggle in the overtime period.  Kingsby put UW-W up 75-17 with a layup with 3:29 in OT.  On the next possession Matt Moses drained a three for UW-SP to cut Whitewater's lead to 75-74.  McKay, again, came through with another driving layup to make it 77-74 Whitewater with 2:11 left, but Pointer guard Khalifa El-Amin streaked down the court for a layin to cut Whitewater's lead back to one, 77-76 with 1:16 left.  Whitewater missed on it next opportunity, and El-Amin came through again for the Pointers, slicing for another layup to UW-SP ahead 78-77 with 0:38 left.

The final possessions were not something you can diagram.  With five seconds left McKay drove to the basket, missed and the freakish long rebound caromed way back behind the three point line where Kingsby hit a three with two seconds left in the extra period.  Point had a last shot, but with just 1.1 seconds left it wasn't enough.

Stevens Point shot 55% from the field, Whitewater 45%.  As in UW-W's win over Platteville Wednesday, the big difference was free throws. UW-W was 23-26 from the line and the Pointers 6-13.  Whitewater also controlled the boards, out-rebounding UW-SP 43-22.  UW-W needed that advantage, because Point shot 12-21 from three point range (compared to 5-15 for the Warhawks).

McKay led both teams with a career-high 35 points, hitting 11-22 shots and 10-12 from the line.  McKay's previous high was 31 in a win over Cardinal Stritch December 18 this season.  McKay also led both teams with eight rebounds.  Kori Vernon added ten points, as did Kingsby, none bigger than his last three.  The Pointers used a balanced attack, with all five starters scoring in double figures.  El-Amin and Pete Rortvedt led the way with 15 points apiece, with Moses and Beamish were right behind with 14, with Louis Hurd contributing ten.

The split by these teams, and given how close they were, will play a role in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament, and maybe even later, when the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament field is announced.  The Pointers still lead the WIAC at 13-1 (20-3 overall), and Whitewater is one back at 12-2 (and an identical 20-3 mark overall), with two games left in the league regular season.

UW-Whitewater will play its last two regular season games on the road, traveling to UW-Oshkosh Wednesday and then at UW-River Falls Saturday.  The WIAC Tournament begins Tuesday, with the top two seeds earning a bye.  The league tourney will continue with semifinals Thursday and the title game Saturday.  The higher seeded team will host each round.