Saturday, November 27, 2010

Big second half powers Badgers past Boston College, 65-55

A look of disbelief was cast over the Wisconsin bench when Keaton Nankivil’s breakaway dunk inexplicably sprang back up through the rim.

Minutes later, it was Nankivil who helped send the Boston College bench into a state of shock.

The senior forward keyed a second-half run that allowed the Badgers to overcome an early deficit and withstand a late rally in a 65-55 win Friday in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic.

Wisconsin (4-1) put together a 32-4 run that converted a six-point Eagles lead early in the second half into a 22-point cushion for the Badgers just over 12 minutes later.

"I think our energy level, we stepped that up a lot," UW senior forwardJon Leuer said. "With stretches like that, that's when the game is really fun.

“And that's what we were having out there, a lot of fun."
Leuer tied for the game-high with 18 points and added seven rebounds to go with three blocks and three assists, while junior guard Jordan Taylor added 14 points.
Nankivil pulled down seven rebounds to go with six points and a pair of blocks, while freshman Josh Gasser eight points and six rebounds.
From the 17:26 mark to the 5:09 mark of the second half, Leuer, Taylor and company put on a clinic on both ends of the floor.

UW connected on 13 of 20 shots from the floor over that span, a 65-percent clip. The Badgers rebounded 5 of those 7 missed field goals, converting all five into second-chance baskets that accounted for 10 points.

Boston College, meanwhile, was held to 13.3 percent shooting during the Badgers’ run. The Eagles connected on 2 of 15 shot attempts, with UW controlling 10 of the possible 13 rebounds on the defensive glass (77 percent) to limit any second-chance scoring for BC.

"It was inside-outside, it was off offensive rebounds," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “We scored, I think, in about every way that you can.

"There are times when things get going and it's just some how, some way, those waves hit."

Wisconsin turned the Eagles (3-2) over four times during its run, converting eight points off turnovers.

Conversely, the Badgers turned the ball over just three times in the game, the third-best performance in school history. UW was guilty of just one turnover over the first 37 minutes of the contest.

Nankivil, who had just seen an uncontested dunk attempt – coming in transition off a Mike Bruesewitz steal – somehow reverse itself back through the top of the rim before being counted, helped get the Badgers’ rally started.

After back-to-back baskets by Josh Gasser and Bruesewitz to open the run, Nankivil grabbed a defensive rebound that led to a basket by Bruesewitz and then blocked a shot on Boston College’s next trip.

The swat set up a jumper by Taylor that drew iron but was flushed home on a second-chance slam by Nankivil to give the Badgers a 36-34 lead with 13:55 to play.

After the Eagles answered with a basket to knot things up again, at 36-all, Nankivil came through with another second-chance bucket to stake the Badgers to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Taylor hit jumpers on consecutive possessions, Leuer splashed a look from the baseline, Gasser dropped in back-to-back layups and then Rob Wilson drilled a long jumper to cap an 18-0 run that had the Badgers leading, 54-36, with 7:22 remaining.

The Eagles finally snapped a scoreless drought of 6:08 with a basket by Joe Trapani, but the UW lead grew to 22 points, at 60-38, after Tim Jarmusz and Leuer hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.

Boston College refused to fade, however, putting together a 15-0 run over the next 4 1/2 minutes to cut the Badgers’ lead to seven points with under a minute to play.

Leuer and Taylor combined to hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory, Wisconsin’s fifth straight against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

The Badgers advance to Sunday’s championship game, where they will face the winner of the semifinal matchup between California and Notre Dame. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. (CT), live on ESPN2.

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