One Top 10 team down this week, and the nation’s No. 1 to go.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse men’s basketball team bombed away from beyond the arc and put down the No. 7 team in the nation, UW-Whitewater.
The Eagles nailed a season high 15 3-pointers in an 88-83 WIAC win Wednesday at Mitchell Hall over the 2012 National Champions, which came in with a nine-game win streak.
Next up, at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mitchell Hall, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, UW-Stevens Point (17-0, 8-0 WIAC), winners of three national titles in the last decade.
Wednesday, the Eagles (11-6, 5-3) were in control … for 19 minutes. They led by as many as 12 in the second half, but the Warhawks (14-3, 5-3) chipped and chipped, and pulled within three points thanks to an almost catastrophic final minute for UW-L.
First, Cody Odegaard nailed a 3-pointer to pull UW-W within 84-79 with 1:05 to go. Next, UW-L’s Clint Rihn missed a pair of free throws.
On the ensuing possession, Whitewater’s Quardell Young was fouled with 38 seconds left and went to the line. He made the first but missed the second. Teammate KJ Evans got the offensive rebound and was fouled.
Evans missed the first and made the second to pull with 84-81 with 37 seconds to go, and then the unthinkable happened for UW-L - guard Trent Schmidt turned it over.
Four seconds later, however, the junior redeemed himself, ripping the ball from Evans, who had 19 points 10 rebounds. He then was fouled and nailed both free throws to go up 85-81 with 21 seconds left.
Looking to pull within a point, Whitewater’s Odegaard went up for the 3, but was blocked by Calahan Skogman, who led UW-L with 22 points, 11 rebounds.
Oddegaard got the rebound, however, and kicked to Evans, who missed a jumper, got his own board and scored with 8 seconds to go.
That, however, was the end of the drama. Rihn nailed two free throws to seal it.
Schmidt scored a career high 20 off the bench for the Eagles, who nailed 15 of 24 3-pointers (62.5%). UW-L shot better from beyond the arc than from inside it, where it was 14-for-28 (50%).
Braden Tice nailed 4 of 6 from deep and Lucas Collum went 3-for-5. They both scored 16 for the Ealges.