Fourth-ranked Pointers roll past Superior
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
Coming off its first loss of the season, the fourth-ranked University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s basketball team cruised to a win over UW-Superior at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse Saturday, Dec. 1.
The Pointers (4-1) were able to go deep into their bench as they built a 27-point lead in the first half, and went on to a 79-36 victory for their 30th win in a row over their former longtime Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) opponent.
“I was proud of how we prepared, because we have to teach that lesson every year, about respecting every opponent, not looking past anybody and preparing the same,” said UWSP men’s basketball head coach Bob Semling. “And if we’re going to work that hard in practice, no matter what their record is, we get a chance to go against somebody different and really grow as a team.
“And we did that for the most part tonight,” he said.
Following an 86-84 loss in overtime at fifth-ranked Augustana (Ill.) Wednesday, Nov. 28, UWSP looked to bounce back at home against Superior (1-6) Saturday night.
Senior guard Nate Dodge scored 11 of the Pointers’ first 17 points, as they got out to a 17-10 with 11:34 left in the first half, before Dodge followed with back-to-back three-pointers to make it 23-10.
That was the start of an 18-2 run, which also included six points from sophomore point guard Garrett Nelson, as UWSP opened up a 35-12 lead with 5:14 to play in the first half.
The Pointers went into halftime with a 43-16 lead, as they outscored Superior 18-2 on points off turnovers and shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29) from the field in the opening half.
“We hit a lot of our goals against (Buena Vista in an 87-72 win Nov. 17), and they were a better team and more experienced (than Superior), but they beat us in the second half by one,” said Semling. “And that was something our guys talked about right away at halftime, is that ‘we’ve got to make sure that we win the second half, and if we can win the first half by more than 20, we should set a goal of winning the second half by 10.’
“So our guys are saying the right things and doing the right things,” he said. “And that’s what you would hope for on a veteran team.”
Dodge scored UWSP’s first six points of the second half to increase the lead to 31 at 49-18 with 16:58 to play, and the team continued to roll the rest of the way to a 79-36 win, as the Pointers outscored Superior 36-20 in the second half.
Dodge shot 8-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from three-point range to finish with 23 points, Garrett Nelson was 5-of-8 from the field and scored 13 points off the bench in 14 minutes, and senior guard Drew Fredrickson added 10 points and four rebounds.
“Nate is just an incredibly confident shooter, he gets it off quick, he’s a high-volume shooter, and sometimes I’ve just got to let him go,” said Semling. “I swear one of these halftimes I’m going to look and he’s going to have 20 shots, because he’s just so aggressive.
“I love that about Nate, he’s a high-volume shooter and scorer,” he said. “But we need to work on being balanced, and I’d love to have our next game coming up, where we have five guys in double figures.”
UWSP’s bench outscored Superior’s reserves 36-2, as 12 different players broke into the scoring column for the Pointers, who will play next at Hope (Mich.) at 6 p.m. Central time Saturday, Dec. 8.
“I’m really pleased that at home, all of those guys got good, quality minutes,” said Semling. “And it’s great that we’re still playing Superior. They were a league opponent, we have over a 100-year history with them, and so I’m glad that we have them. (Superior head coach) Greg Polkowski is a good, young coach, he will recruit and build that program back up.
“When we won a National Title in 2003-04, we lost both regular-season games to Superior, and then finally broke through and beat them in the WIAC Tournament,” he said. “So you have a 29-5 season (in 2003-04), and two of your losses are to Superior. So that’s what we’re hoping for, is that they will rebuild that program, and this will be a really good series again in the future.”