A 20-0 run at the start of the second half propelled the University of Wisconsin-Superior men’s basketball team to an 89-63 UMAC victory over Minnesota Morris Sunday, Jan. 19, at Mertz Mortorelli Gym.
With the win, the Yellowjackets improve to 10-6 overall and 7-0 in the UMAC.
The 10 wins are the most for UWS since the 2015-16 season, and sets up a first-place showdown with the Northwestern Eagles at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Ericksen Center in St. Paul.
Northwestern (10-6) is in second place in the UMAC at 6-1 and is coming off an 85-75 win over North Central.
“Wednesday is a big one,” UWS senior Mac Reykdal said. “We’re going to face a team that’s always at the top of the conference so they’re going to be battle-tested and they’ll be ready to play all 40 (minutes).
“We just have to play the whole game and trust each other.”
Reykdal led four Yellowjackets in double figures on Sunday with 22 points, which included six 3-pointers. The senior also had four steals and two assists.
Vid Milenkovic was next with 20 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists; former Superior Spartan Mason Ackley had 14 points, a team-high seven rebounds and four assists; and Allen Anderson had 13 points and four assists.
Ian Carlin led Morris (4-11 overall, 1-6 UMAC) with 12 points.
UWS trailed 5-2 early on and the game was tied at 5-5 and 10-10.
The Yellowjackets eventually took a 20-10 lead on a Reykdal steal and lay up with 10:59 left in the half.
Morris cut the deficit to 22-20, but a 9-2 run gave UWS a 31-22 lead.
The ‘Jackets matched the nine-point lead three more times over the final four minutes, before settling on a 39-33 lead at the break.
Superior’s 20-0 run lasted until Dillon Haider made two free throws with 14:11 remaining.
The run included back-to-back Anderson jumpers; an Ackley steal and fast-break dunk; an Anderson to Ackley alley-oop; and back-to-back Reykdal 3-pointers.
“We get lost in the game of basketball, and it’s really fun to get into that type of flow,” Reykdal said. “We were playing well and were playing together as a team, that’s one of the best things about basketball right there.”
The Yellowjackets’ largest lead of the game was 35 points, twice, 75-40 on a Milenkovich 3-pointer at 10:19, and 77-42 on a Joan Giner put-back basket with around nine minutes remaining.
With Sunday’s win the Yellowjackets reached 10 wins for the third time in eight seasons.
UWS had a 12-14 record during the 2015-16 season and 14-12 in 2011-12.
“Coach (Greg Polkowski) has been here a couple of years and has really gotten a hold of our program,” Reykdal said. “I also think the leadership mixed with the youth, it’s just all coming together at a good time.”
Another difference is having Vid Milenkovic back on the team. The senior from Zurich, Switzerland, sat out all of last season with an injury. UWS is also hopeful to get senior Colton Williams back from an injury.
“Having Vid back, and soon we’ll get Colton back, that will help big time,” Reykdal said. “Just having those two means a lot to our program.”
Morris — Kenneth Riley 9, Ian Carlin 12, James Pendleton 5, Trent Jerome 8, Dillon Haider 5, Jaret Johnson 7, Camden Talley 3, Tath Dak 5, Zach Bubany 5, Ethan Hauge 1, Galvy Ngimukua 2, Zak Irsfeld 2. Totals: 22-48 12-23 63.
3-point goals (7-20) — Jerome 2, Carlin, Pendelton, Haider, Johnson, Bubany.
UW-Superior — Mac Reykdal 22, Vid Milenkovic 20, Mason Ackley 14, Allen Anderson 13, Eli Vogel 4, Joan Giner 2, Josef Fahrenholtz 5, Jackson Middelstadt 2, Ronny Gavin 2, Thomas Robarge 3, Enrique Sanchez 2. Totals: 35-68 7-17 89.
3-point goals (12-31) — Reykdal 6, Milenkovic 3, Robarge, Fahrenholtz, Anderson.