Racine St. Cat’s graduate Elijah Lambert played a big role as the UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball team advanced to the semifinal round of the WIAC tournament on Tuesday night. Lambert had a career-high 25 points in the Warhawks’ 72-49 win over UW-River Falls at home.
“Great game defensively and offensively as he rebounded well,” UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball coach Pat Miller said of Lambert. “He is a guy that has gotten consistently better the last four weeks as he has really made some strides, which is good to see. He is a talented kid that is strong and athletic and has really put it together the last month.”
Lambert scored seven points in the first nine minutes to help propel Whitewater to an early 19-10 lead. Lambert, Trevon Chislom, and Drew Fisher all posted four points in the remainder of the first half to give the Warhawks a 35-24 lead at the half.
After baskets from Gage Malensek, Jack Brahm, and Derek Gray, Whitewater pushed their lead to 18 points with a 7-0 run early in the second half. With 11:44 to go in the half, Lambert added two free-throw makes to push the lead to 20 before back-to-back three-pointers pushed the lead to 25 with 4:35 to go in the game.
Whitewater shot about 50 percent for the game going 28-for-57 from the field including six made attempts from three-point range and shot 10-for-16 from the free-throw line in the game. The Warhawks had 27 bench points in the game and scored 22 points off turnovers in the win over the Falcons.
“We have made some good strides defensively, and offensively we moved the ball good and our shot selection was good,” Miller said. “Just a team that has continued to make improvements as the year has gone on.”
In addition to Lambert’s career-high 25 points, Chislom had 12 points for UW-Whitewater, while Fisher had nine and Malensek had seven in the game. Senior Jack Brahm was the leading rebounder for the Warhawks with nine rebounds in the game.
Rodrick Payne led the Falcons in scoring with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Jake Reeck and Marshall Holland both had seven points in the game. UW-River Falls made 20 shots in the game with only two attempts from three-point range in the loss.
UW-Whitewater will take on UW-Oshkosh in a road game on Feb. 24 in a conference tournament semifinal. The Warhawks have split their regular season meetings with the Titans including an 82-78 road win on Jan. 5 and fell in their meeting last week in a 48-46 loss at home on Feb. 16.
“They are a really good team and they are balanced,” Miller said. “Again with this team, we have improved and are getting more consistent. If we can defend and limit our turnovers, hopefully we can be right there with them.”
The winner of that game will play in the conference championship against the winner of the UW-Platteville vs. UW-Lacrosse semifinal game on Feb. 26, which will determine the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.