Janesville20.4°

Warhawk muscle proves to be superior

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Mike Johnson
February 26, 2010

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men’s basketball team wasn’t especially proficient from the three-point line on Thursday night.


Of course, when just about everything you run offensively results in a clean look from five feet and in, who cares if you’re missing 22-footers?


Mike Bendall, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, and 6-9 senior center Dustin Mitchell literally bullied UW-Superior into submission as the top-seeded Warhawks pulled away from the sixth-seeded Yellowjackets for an 86-70 victory in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal at Kachel Gym in the Williams Center.


Bendall, whose six early second-half points sparked Whitewater from a 36-35 halftime deficit, had 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Mitchell, meanwhile, matched Bendall’s 21 points and added 11 boards and three blocks.


“That’s the way we gameplan with them, because we didn’t feel their interior defense is very good,” Mitchell said. “That’s our gameplan every game, pretty much. We want to run some clock, pound them, get it inside.”


Now the Warhawks (22-4) get another game against UW-Stevens Point in the conference title game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Kachel Gym. The second-seeded Pointers, also 22-4, defeated fourth-seeded UW-Stout, 87-72, in Thursday’s other semifinal.


The Warhawks finished a game ahead of the Pointers for the regular-season conference title, beating them twice in the process. Whitewater was ranked eighth nationally in the latest D3hoops.com poll, while Stevens Point was ranked ninth.


Though an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament is on the line Saturday, Whitewater coach Pat Miller thinks both teams will make it no matter what happens.


“I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” Miller said. “ I think, realistically, we’re both in (the NCAA Tournament) comfortably. I don’t think there’s any of an issue there.


“It’s just two good teams, and it’s a good rivalry. I think we’ve been the two best teams throughout the conference season.”


On Thursday, some nifty footwork in the post by Bendall with 15 minutes 54 seconds left in the game started a 13-1 Whitewater run that stretched the Warhawks’ lead from 43-42 to 56-43. Alex Edmunds had an electrifying putback dunk, and Dupree Fletcher, who added 16 points off the bench, went coast-to-coast off a steal during the back-breaking run.


Superior never got within nine after that, and Whitewater’s winning margin was its largest.


The Yellowjackets (15-12) came out of the gate hot, racing to an 8-0 lead. But Mitchell and Bendall used a variety of post moves, pick-and-rolls and lob passes to combine for 23 first-half points.


Jake Smith had 10 points and five rebounds in the first half for Superior and wound up with 21 points and eight rebounds, both team-highs.


WHITEWATER 86, SUPERIOR 70


UW-Superior (70)—Culy 6-10 0-0 13, Hill 3-12 4-4 11, Smith 8-13 5-6 21, Helland 3-9 1-2 9, Roeder 3-5 0-0 6, Aalfs 1-6 4-7 6, Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Ritchie 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 26-59 14-19 70.


UW-Whitewater (86)—Free 0-3 0-0 0, Negri 1-3 0-0 2, Mitchell 8-12 4-4 21, Edmunds 3-5 3-4 9, Bendall 9-15 2-2 21, Dantzler 1-4 7-8 9, Fletcher 6-11 2-2 16, Vines 4-7 0-3 8. Totals: 32-60 18-23 86.


Superior 36 34—70


Whitewater 35 51—86


Three-point goals—Superior 4-18 (Culy 1-4, Hill 1-5, Smith 0-1, Helland (2-5), Aalfs (0-2), Ritchie (0-1), Whitewater 4-13 (Free 0-2, Negri 0-1, Mitchell 1-1, Bendall 1-4, Dantzler 0-1, Fletcher 2-3, Vines 0-1); Fouled out—none; Rebounds—Superior 24 (Smith 8), Whitewater 42 (Mitchell 11); Assists—Superior 8 (Culy, Hill, Smith 2), Whitewater 12 (Bendall 4); Total fouls—Superior 18, Whitewater 17.


Attendance—516.



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