The Whitman College men's basketball team traveled to Platteville, Wisconsin, for its Sweet 16 round matchup against a familiar foe, No. 17 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Friday afternoon. It was clear early that the game was going to be won on the defensive end and that is just what the Blues did, forcing 22 Pointer turnovers on their way to a 65-55 victory.
Sociology major Tim Howell '18 led all players with 18 points and four assists. The defensive prowess of Austin Butler '19 provided a much-needed spark as the junior psychology major came away with 10 points, four steals and a blocked shot, though he battled foul trouble for part of the night.
As the team entered Bo Ryan Court, Whitman supporters filed into Olin Auditorium on the Whitman campus, eager to cheer the Blues on to victory from 1,700 miles away.
Points were hard to come by in the opening minutes, but the Whitman defense kept and the game close, forcing timely turnovers that propelled a 14-2 run, springboarding the Blues to a 19-9 lead midway through the first half.
After the Pointers cut the Whitman lead to three, the offense began to find its rhythm as the Blues entered halftime with a 30-19 advantage. Whitman scored 20 of its 30 points off of turnovers in the opening half while shooting 50 percent from the field.
The second half had a different feel from the start as computer science major Jack Stewart '19 buried a 3-pointer from the bench-side corner, which was followed by a floater from Howell pushing the Whitman lead to 16. From there, the Blues continued to pile it on, running out to a 21-point lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point made a run late in the game, but after Howell was fouled on a made jump shot, the Blues’ lead never felt threatened.
The Blues will take on the winner of tonight's game between host University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Nebraska Wesleyan University tomorrow at 5 p.m. PST.