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 (New London, WI/New London/Augustana (SD)) 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 (Randolph, WI/Randolph) 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 ten 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 (Winneconne, WI/Winneconne) and Alex Richard (Spring Green, WI/River Valley). 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 ten 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.
UWSP pays a visit to Saint John's (MN) on Saturday for a 3 p.m. tip-off against the Johnnies in Collegeville, Minn.
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