WISCONSIN DELLS - Kurt Meyle's aggressiveness in the lane set the tone.
Meyle, a 6-foot-4 junior post player from St. John's Northwestern Military Academy, scored 10 of his 13 total points in the first half as the UWM-Waukesha men's basketball team defeated UW-Barron 83-44 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference game at JustAgame Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 4.
The dominant 40-minute performance snapped a frustrating string of back-to-back losses for UWM-Waukesha, which improved to 6-5 overall.
The Cougars outscored UW-Barron 51-21 in what proved to be a decisive first half, propelled by a 32-8 run over the course of the opening 12 minutes.
Meyle helped power the critical fast start by contributing six consecutive points within the opening four minutes, including a strong inside basket to extend the lead to 9-4 with 16:13 remaining.
"We wanted to come out strong, play hard and start off the second semester on a good note," said Meyle, a member of UWM-Waukesha's 2016-17 WCC state championship team and first-team all-conference selection last year. "After struggling with a loss at home to UW-Sheboygan in mid-December, we really attempted to work through the situation, practice hard and turn things around.
"During warmups, we were able to get mentally prepared and refused to underestimate our opponent. That's when we were able to build a good lead, maintain the momentum and play hard the rest of the way. Regardless of the score, it was all about staying focused and competing up to our potential for an entire 40 minutes. Being on this court again, it really brought back a lot of great memories so it was fun and should act as good motivation to make it back to the state tournament."
The Cougars showcased their depth and balance with 10 players reaching the scoring column, highlighted by four in double figures.
Sophomore wing Jayden Hardy from Nicolet contributed a team-high 18 points, a team-best seven rebounds, three assists and a steal for UWM-Waukesha, which converted eight baskets from 3-point range and 7 of 11 free throws.
Freshman wing Tyler Torosian from New Berlin West followed with 15 points, including 4 of 5 free throws, three rebounds and three assists for the Cougars - who demonstrated their unselfishness by generating 16 assists. Freshman guard Jake Antczak from Mukwonago had 12 points with four 3-pointers, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Freshman wing Jeremy Ninham from Nicolet had nine points with three 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot. Junior post player Montreale Rucker from Milwaukee South Division added six points.
UWM-Waukesha sixth-year head coach Adam Ligocki was pleased with how his team came out fast, played with energy and set the tone early in the game.
Ligocki noted the specific contributions of Hardy and Torosian as being a catalyst to the team's success.
"Coming off some difficult losses at the end of last semester, we really attempted to focus on playing with energy, staying aggressive and competing as a team over the course of the last 24 days," said Ligocki, whose team bounced back to help erase the stinging memory of a home-court loss to WCC East rival UWGB-Sheboygan (79-66) to conclude the first-half schedule. "That said, the guys took it to heart and every player that stepped on the court contributed. It was a great way to start the new year and we took another big step forward. We were excited, made the most of the experience of playing in this great venue and came away with a nice victory. From start to finish, we were ready and it showed."
COUGAR FAST FACTS
What: The UWM-Waukesha men's basketball team defeated UW-Barron 83-44 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference game at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Friday, Jan. 4.
Record: 6-5 overall
Scoring Leaders: Jayden Hardy (18 points), Tyler Torosian (15 points), Kurt Meyle (13 points), Jake Antczak (12 points), Jeremy Ninham (9 points), Montreale Rucker (6 points)
Rebound Leaders: Hardy (7), Meyle (6), Brad Scheff (6), Antczak (4), Torosian (3), Ninham (3), Jalen Black (3), Kris Zeise (3)
Notable: The Cougars outscored UW-Barron 51-21 in what proved to be a decisive first half, powered by a 32-8 run over the course of the opening 12 minutes.