The Wisconsin Badgers (5-1) take down a very good Saint Mary’s Gaels (6-1) team, 61-55, inside Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada in the relocated Maui Invitational Tournament championship game!
It’s the first time in program history that the Badgers have won the Maui Invitational championship. They were 0-3 in the previous three appearances in the title game.
Saint Mary’s was the better team the first 25 minutes and Wisconsin was the better team the final 15 minutes.
To no surprise, Johnny Davis was named the Maui Invitational Most Outstanding Player.
Johnny Davis had nine points in the first five minutes until the Gaels played great defense on him. But the Gaels couldn’t keep him down for long as Davis came up big down the stretch for UW.
Johnny finished with 20 points on 7-of-17 from the field, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal in 32 minutes. He scored 20-plus in every game in this tournament.
Junior Tyler Wahl played another outstanding game on both ends of the court, scoring 18 points on 6-of-9 from the field, made all six of his free throw’s, had five rebounds, four blocks and a steal in 36 minutes.
Saint Mary’s took a 37-27 lead 4:03 into the second half. UW finished the game on a 34-18 run to wipe out that 10-point deficit.
This Badgers team does not quit. Lorne Bowman went on a personal 5-0 run to get UW within 37-32, which was a huge spark for the Badgers.
Brad Davison who had a tough day shooting, finishing 1-of-10 from the field, but he hit a big 3-pointer to get UW within 39-35.
Then Johnny Davis came up big in the final six minutes and put UW ahead for good at 48-46 with 4:51 left in the game.
UW was just 21-for-56 (37.5%) from the field, 3-of-12 (25.0%) from 3-point range, but were 16-of-18 (88.9%) at the free throw line.
We all knew this was going to be a grind it out type of game with two teams that play similar styles. To me, a huge difference in the game was the turnover battle: UW had just 8 turnovers and SMC had 16 turnovers.
Saint Mary’s is a good experienced team and I think they’ll make it to the NCAA Tournament.
It is still so early in the season and the Big Ten has some very tough teams. But this Badgers team is much further along than most people expected.
The Badgers have a week off before they travel to Atlanta, Georgia to play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-1) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge next Wednesday, December 1st. Tipoff is set for 8:15 PM (Central Time) and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.