Fourth-ranked Pointers lose at fifth-ranked Augustana in OT, host Superior Saturday
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The fourth-ranked University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season on a last-second shot against fifth-ranked Augustana in Rock Island, Ill., Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Senior guard Nate Dodge poured in 40 points to lead the Pointers (3-1), who never trailed until Augustana All-American senior guard Nate Ebel hit a shot with 1.8 seconds left in overtime to give Augustana (4-1) an 86-84 win.
In a battle of teams ranked in the Top 5 in the D3hoops.com Coaches Poll, UWSP played at Augustana Wednesday night, after the Pointers lost 74-58 to Augustana at JustAgameFieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells last year.
Dodge knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and senior forward Canon O’Heron hit a jumper to give UWSP an 8-0 lead five minutes into the game, while Dodge started 7-for-8 from the field and buried his sixth three-pointer of the first half to increase the Pointers’ lead to 34-24 with 3:00 to go in the opening half.
Augustana used a three-point play and a three-pointer to close within 34-30 with 1:39 remaining in the first half, while UWSP went into halftime with a 38-32 lead.
In the second half, Augustana got within 52-49 with 10:14 to play, but senior guard/forward Mark Nelson buried a three-pointer to increase the lead to 55-49, and the Pointers went up 69-61 on a layup from O’Heron with 4:14 remaining.
However, Augustana answered with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 69-69 with 2:37 to go, before Dodge hit a three-pointer to give UWSP a 72-69 lead with 2:11 left.
Augustana scored on a layup, and following a free throw from O’Heron that gave the Pointers a 73-71 advantage, Ebel hit a pair of free throws with 29.3 seconds to play to tie the game at 73-73.
UWSP senior guard Drew Fredrickson missed a three-pointer just before the buzzer to send the game into overtime, where Augustana was held without a field goal for the first three minutes, but scored six points at the free-throw line to hold a 79-77 lead with 1:52 to go.
Dodge followed with his ninth three-pointer of the game to put the Pointers ahead 80-79 with 1:32 remaining, while Augustana senior guard Chrishawn Orange hit a three-pointer with 1:07 to play to give his team an 82-80 lead.
After a pair of free throws from UWSP junior guard Ethan Bublitz tied the game with 39.4 seconds left, Ebel hit a jumper with 35 seconds to play to give Augustana an 84-82 lead, while Dodge made a pair of free throws with 15.5 remaining to tie it at 84-84.
Ebel drove down the lane and scored with 1.8 seconds to play to give Augustana an 86-84 lead, and then came up with a steal to allow Augustana to come away with an 86-84 win in overtime.
Dodge shot 13-of-19 from the field and 9-of-14 from three-point range and finished with 40 points and five rebounds, to come up just short of the career-high 42 points he scored when he knocked down a school-record 10 three-pointers in a 91-77 win at home over Hope last December.
O’Heron had 20 points and four rebounds, while Mark Nelson also added eight points off the bench for the Pointers
Ebel had 19 points and seven assists to lead five scorers in double figures for Augustana, which shot 27-of-36 on free-throw attempts, while UWSP was 13-of-18 from the free-throw line in half as many attempts on the road.
The Pointers will be back home for a nonconference game against UW-Superior (1-5) at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.
Superior is guided by second-year head coach Greg Polkowski, who played at Superior from 2004 through 2008, and served as the team’s interim head coach last season after former head coach Paul Eberhardt resigned in Sept. 2017.
“We wanted to keep Superior on the schedule, because it’s the second-longest history in the state university system, second to us and Oshkosh,” said UWSP men’s basketball head coach Bob Semling. “We played Oshkosh in 1899 and then we played Superior in 1900, so we’ve played them going back over 100 years, and when they left our league, we wanted to continue the series.
“At that time Superior was a legitimate team in our league, and we thought they were going to have a lot of success and be one of the top two or three teams in the UMAC each year and maybe make the NCAA Tournament out of the UMAC as the automatic qualifier,” he said. “But that hasn’t happened.”
Superior lost 75-55 at home to UW-River Falls (4-1) Nov. 21 and 68-56 to UW-Eau Claire (4-1) at home Wednesday, Nov. 28, and has been led this season by 6-0 senior guard Montroy Scott (21.4 points, 10 rebounds per game, 46.7 percent on three-pointers), 5-11 junior guard Mac Reykdal (15.2 points) and 6-2 senior forward Colton Williams (8.5 points).
“There’s been quite a difference in their lineup from last year to this year,” said Semling, whose team won 70-57 at Superior last season. “Scott was one of their top players last year and he returns, he scored 20 against River Falls, so obviously he’s got enough ability to do that against a good River Falls team.
“They’re guard-orientated and they do have some younger guys out there, but we need to prepare for every game the same,” he said. “We’ve got a showdown game in Augustana, where two teams are ranked in the Top 10, but we practice and prepare the same way for every opponent, and we need to play against the game and play against our standard, no matter who we jump the ball against.”