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Men's basketball: Falcons bounce back against Whitewater

UW-River Falls' Austin Heidecker (24) takes a shot over UW-Stevens Point's Canon O'Heron (32) in the first half of the Falcons' 73-48 loss to the Pointers in the WIAC opener for both teams Wednesday, Jan. 3, at Page Arena. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

After a lackluster 73-48 loss in its WIAC opener at home against unranked UW-Stevens Point Wednesday Jan. 3, the third-ranked UW-River Falls men's basketball team battled back from a 10-point deficit with just over five minutes remaining to defeat fifth-ranked UW-Whitewater, 81-80, Saturday, Jan. 6, in Whitewater.

Brennan Witt's jumper with less than two seconds left capped a 7-0 Falcon run to close the game.

Witt finished with a career-high 30 points and completed a double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds while adding three steals and two assists. Alex Herink was the only other Falcon in double figures with 11 points while pulling down six rebounds.

The Falcons and Warhawks traded baskets throughout the first half, recording nine lead changes between the two teams. Whitewater took a 47-45 lead into the break and extended it to 76-66 with 5:47 remaining before the Falcons outscored the Warhawks 15-4 the rest of the way, including 7-0 in the final 2:43.

Two free throws by Herink made it a four-point game before a three-pointer by Austin Moldenhauer with 1:49 left pulled UWRF to within one, 80-79. Neither team would score again until Witt's game-winning jumper with under two seconds left on the clock. The Warhawks got off a desperation three at the buzzer but couldn't get it to fall.

The victory came three nights after unranked Stevens Point shocked the Falcons, 73-48, in the WIAC opener for both teams at Page Arena at Falcon Center.

The Falcons, who had jumped from No. 8 to No. 3 in the D3hoops.com national rankings earlier that day, were up 15-2 against the unranked Pointers when the bottom dropped out.

Stevens Point outscored the Falcons 37-9 the rest of the half to take a 13-point lead, 39-26, at the break and outscored the Falcons 34-22 in the second half to earn a 25-point victory

Herink scored seven of UWRF's first 15 points as the Falcons jumped out to a 13-point lead before Stevens Point hit back-to-back three-pointers to start a 20-7 run that would tie the game, 22-22, with 6:31 remaining in the first half. UWRF made just one field goal the rest of the half while being outscored by the Pointers, 17-4.

Stevens Point went on to shoot 61 percent (11-of-18) from the field in the second half while UWRF made just 7-of-22 shots, including 0-for-8 from three-point range. Herink led UWRF with 13 points.

The Falcons, now 10-2 overall, 1-1 in conference play, will host UW-Platteville (12-1, 2-0) Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. at Page Arena before visiting UW-Oshkosh (11-2, 1-1) Saturday, Jan. 13.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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