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Wisconsin-Stevens Point Athletics | December 28, 2013

Strong second half lifts top-ranked UWSP

LAS VEGAS -- Top-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point trailed at halftime for the first time this season, but the Pointers fought back and pulled away in the second half of a 93-75 win against Whitworth on Saturday afternoon at the Classic in the South Point Arena.

Tyler Tillema scored a season-high 33 points and also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out five assists to lead the Pointers (9-0). Tillema shot 10-for-17 from the floor, including 4-for-6 from behind the arc, and also shot 9-for-13 at the free-throw line.

Colton McCargar scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half for the Pirates (5-3) and also hauled in seven rebounds.

UW-Stevens Point trailed 45-43 at halftime but outscored Whitworth 50-30 in the final 20 minutes of the game to remain unbeaten. The Pointers took the lead at 47-46 with 17:29 remaining and never relinquished the advantage.

After taking the lead, UWSP gradually extended its advantage before pulling away in the final five minutes. Leading by eight with 5:05 to go, the Pointers went on an 11-2 run to end any hope of a comeback by the Pirates.

In the second half, UW-Stevens Point held Whitworth to seven field goals and 33.3 percent shooting. The Pirates were just 1-for-11 on threes and 15-for-26 (57.7 percent) from the free-throw line in the second half. Whitworth was 5-for-10 on threes and 12-for-14 from the charity stripe in the first half.

The two teams combined for 54 fouls and 79 free-throw attempts in the game but both teams struggled from the charity stripe. The Pointers made a season-high 25 free throws on 39 attempts (64.1 percent), while Whitworth missed 13 free throws of its own on 40 attempts (67.5 percent).

UW-Stevens Point shot 57.5 percent (15-for-26) in the second half, including 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) from behind the arc. The strong second half helped the Pointers shoot more than 50.0 percent for the ninth time in nine games this season.

UWSP also committed a season-low four turnovers and outscored Whitworth 38-28 in the paint.

After trailing 11-6 early, the Pirates led for most of the first half. Whitworth's largest lead of the game was 31-23 at the 7:53 mark of the opening half. After UWSP came back to take the lead late in the first half, the Pirates took a two-point lead into the break on a three-pointer by Christian Jurlina.

In addition to Tillema's big day, Trevor Hass scored 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting for the Pointers. Alex Richard came off the bench to add 12 points and six rebounds.