Men's Basketball: Warhawks Advance to Elite Eight - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Men's Basketball: Warhawks Advance to Elite Eight

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. - UW-Whitewater advanced to the elite eight of the NCAA Division III basketball championship tournament with an 81-63 win over the University of Texas-Dallas at Quandt Fieldhouse in Stevens Point, Wisconsin Friday evening.  UW-W, 26-4, will play Emory University, 19-8, at 7:00 Saturday night for the right to advance to the final four in Salem, Virginia March 21-22. Emory advanced to the elite eight by defeating UW-Stevens Point, 76-73, in overtime.

Despite enjoying something of a home court level of comfort, UW-W found itself behind early.  UT-Dallas led by six points three times in the early going, for the first time at 8-2 at 16:52 on a Kyle Schleigh free throw and the last at 12-6 on Matt Medell's layup at 14:16. 

Whitewater climbed back in, taking its first lead after a Quardell Young (Kenosha/Bradford) steal and fast break assist to Reggie Hearn(Milwaukee/Marshall) for a layin and a 15-14 lead with 12:47 remaining in the half.  That basket was the start of a 10-0 run that boosted the Warhawks' margin to 23-14 on K.J. Evans' jumper from the left elbow with 10:08 on the clock. 

The Warhawks closed the half on a 9-0 streak that put them up 40-26 at intermission.  UT-Dallas did not score for the last 3:59 of the half. 

Whitewater had just three turnovers in the half, while forcing eight by the Comets.  UW-W outscored UT-D 20-10 in the paint and 6-0 on fast break points.  The Warhawks enjoyed a six point bulge at the free throw line, hitting 9-11 to the Comets' 3-6.  Hearn led UW-W with 10 points in the half, also grabbing five rebounds.  Young contributed four steals and three assists.  The Comets were led by Medell's 11 points.  Schleigh, the team's leading scorer at almost 18 points per game, had just the lone free throw in the first twenty minutes.

The Warhawks' halftime lead evaporated in the face of a 1-3-1 zone defense in the second half.  Schleigh's three-pointer from the left angle at 12:17 cut the Comets' deficit to 51-46, and Nolan Harvey's two free throws at the 7:34 mark still had UT-D within five, 65-60. 

But UW-W solved the puzzle, outscoring Dallas 16-3 over the remaining time.  Evans' layup off a Young assist ended an 8-0 run, and the finishing stretch was concluded by a three from Cody Odegaard (Poynette/Poynette), an Evans dunk, and Hearn's layin.

Whitewater shot 59% from the floor, holding UT-D to 44%.  Dallas made 9-23 threes, Whitewater 6-15.  UW-W scored 46 points in the paint to 18 in close for the Comets.

With 16 second half points, on 7-8 shooting, Evans led both teams with 22 points.  Odegaard scored a season high 18, hitting 5-7 three pointers, and Hearn recorded a double double, his third of the season, with 16 points and a game high ten rebounds.  Young led both teams with eight assists, adding four steals and seven rebounds from his point guard position.   Harvey poured in 17 points in the second half to wind up with 20 for UT-D, with Medell adding just two points in the second half for a total of 13.  Schleigh, who shot 1-8 from the floor, ended with seven points, leading his team with four assists and three steals.

UW-W will be making its fifth appearance in the elite eight, with the others coming in 1983, 1984, 1989, and 2012.  The Warhawks won NCAA III titles in those last three years. 

UT-Dallas ends the season 27-4.

UW-Whitewater is the lone school to have both men's and women's basketball advance to the Elite Eight this season.

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