The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team, who entered the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament with a perfect record earlier in the season, faced the Dayton Flyers in an off-conference showcase Wednesday afternoon.
In a game dominated by defense, the Badgers did just enough to exit in a 43-42 win.
Here’s a breakdown of Wisconsin’s one-point win over Dayton in the first round of Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Early on, the Badgers would go ahead behind two quick turnovers from Dayton and an easy layup for Jordan Davis on a nice backdoor feed from center Steven Crowl.
A three-minute goal gap for Wisconsin shortly after would allow the Flyers to end the game as neither team was overly efficient on offense in the first four minutes of the game, shooting a combined 2-of-13.
After the first media timeout, the two teams began to find something on offense as the Flyers came out with five quick points while Wisconsin’s Connor Essegian hit a critical three to end a prolonged scoring slump.
The two teams would next trade buckets, with Essegian again leading the way for the Badgers to make it 9-7 in favor of the Flyers, with 11:28 left in the first half.
Connor Essegian would continue to carry Wisconsin on offense after the brief media break. The freshman guard hit a stepback three and then connected with a trio of free throws after being fouled on an inbounds game to give the Badgers a 13-11 lead with 8:36 on the clock.
Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit would intervene in the action with a big three of his own to extend the lead to five points as Dayton went 1-of-11 off the floor.
Mustapha Amzil would end the goalless streak for the Flyer with a three-pointer. However, easy points from Isaac Lindsey and Steven Crowl extended Wisconsin’s lead to six points with two minutes remaining in the first half.
A late three-pointer from Lindsey off the bench would ultimately put the Badgers into halftime with a 7-0 run and a 23-14 advantage.
Steven Crowl would open the second half with some points in the paint for Wisconsin. After two free throws from Dayton Big Man Toumani Camara, Chucky Hepburn would work with a floater in the arc to give the Badges a 27-20 lead at the first media timeout.
After two free throws from DaRon Holmes, Wisconsin would get a tremendous effort from Markus Ilver. The sophomore kept an offensive rebound alive on a tip-out and then buried a three.
Three straight fouls on Dayton resulted in a technical foul on Flyers head coach Anthony Grant, who was unhappy with the way the game was called. As a result, Connor Essegian would add two more points down the free throw line, and then Steven Crowl would hit an offensive rebound and putback to help Wisconsin unlock a 10-point advantage.
The Flyers would respond by making their next three tries to reduce the deficit to just five points when Tyler Wahl added his fourth foul on the offensive end. With all the momentum, Dayton guard Kobe Elvis would continue with a three-point match until the comeback.
Markus Ilver would hit a crucial long-range shot to settle things, but the Wisconsin lead was now down to three points, 37-34, with 8:45 remaining on the clock.
With the Badgers making some questionable shot attempts and in the middle of a goal drought, Kobe Elvis put another jumper to work for the Flyers to cut Wisconsin’s lead to just a point with just over seven minutes left.
Turning on their starters, the Badgers grabbed some timely offensive rebounds to extend their lead to three with two Steven Crowl free throws. However, Mustapha Amzil would have an answer for Dayton to end the game with just under five minutes left.
A Tyler choice and one would push the Badgers back forward moments later as Wisconsin took a 42-39 lead into the media timeout with 3:17 left.
Dayton would make it a 43-41 game moments later and eventually managed to make it a one-point game on the free throw line with 59 seconds remaining.
Steven Crowl was blocked by Toumani Camara on next possession outside the time-out and returned the ball to the Flyers with 24 seconds left. Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit would block a last-second shot attempt by Kobe Elvis to allow the Badgers to escape in the narrow 43-42 win.
- Connor Essegian (Wisconsin)
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Stats: 13 points (3-of-6 shooting) and two rebounds in 19 minutes
Connor Essegian started the game by scoring 11 of the team’s first 13 points in the game. The freshman guard made it big in the game for the Badgers, leading for the game by a team-high 13.
In a game dominated by defense, Essegian was Wisconsin’s top offensive playmaker.
Stats: 9 points (3-of-11 shooting), seven rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes
Steven Crowl didn’t shoot as well against Dayton, but he filled the stats in many other ways. He finished the game second on the team with nine points, also added seven rebounds and dished out four assists while playing excellent defense against Dayton’s length inside.
- Isaac Lindsey (Wisconsin)
Stats: 5 points (2-of-4 shooting), a rebound and an assist in 9 minutes
With the goal elusive, the Badgers got some needed production from Isaac Lindsey off the bench. The Mineral Point sophomore scored five points in the last four minutes of the first half to close the gap.
Overall, Lindsey finished the game on a rebound and an assist, buying Greg Gard some great minutes when the team needed him.
Stats: 16 points (7-of-17 shooting) and eight rebounds in 38 minutes
Dayton couldn’t get anything going in the first half, but Dayton guard Kobe Elvis played extremely well in the second. The 6-foot-2 sophomore led the Flyers with 16 points and also added eight rebounds.
Wisconsin played without Jahcobi Neath and again relied on their defense against Dayton. The Badgers did a phenomenal job forcing the Flyers to play a half-court game and plugging the lane. As a result, Dayton struggled mightily on offense as Wisconsin locked them in on the defensive end.
While the Badgers weren’t much better on offense, Wisconsin got some help from the bench. Connor Essegian and Isaac Lindsey combined for 16 of Wisconsin’s 23 points on 5-of-7 shots in the first half, while the rest of the squad averaged just 13% on 23 attempts combined.
In the second half, Wisconsin forced some jumpers unusually early in the shot clock, allowing Dayton to get out more in the transition. The Flyers scored better as a result, while the Badgers continued to struggle on offense.
Wisconsin did just enough on the defensive end to hold their lead until the final whistle when the team finished the game 1-of-17 but focused on defense to secure the win.
In their first four games, Greg Gard’s side have proved great on defense and this was by far their most impressive performance, knocking out a talented Dayton team who are favorites to win the Atlantic 10 this season . Shot selection was again a problem for the Badgers, but this team found a way to win and shot well from the free throw line, finishing 9-of-10 from the charity line.
photos of the game
With a win to open the tournament, the Badgers will face the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks next on Thursday. The game will take place at 10 a.m. CST and will be broadcast on ESPN. As a reminder, Wisconsin will also play Friday as part of the tournament, although the exact matchup will be determined by how things play out in the Bahamas the next day or so.
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