J’Vaun Walker tallied 20 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in the ‘Jackets season ending loss to Bethany Lutheran. UWS finished 3-4 this season. Photo by Holden Law

The UW-Superior men’s basketball season came to an end on Thursday, March 4 with a 71-70 loss to Bethany Lutheran in the quarterfinals of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) tournament.

Trailing 65-60 with 30 seconds to play, J’Vaun Walker (Rosharon, Texas/ Manvel) hit a layup to cut the deficit to three, but Jacob Milinkovich drew a foul and knocked down both free throws eight seconds later. Walker then found Mason Ackley (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) for a 3-pointer to make it a 67-65 game prior to two more Milinkovic free throws.

Xavier Patterson (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) missed a 3-pointer on the next possession that would have made it a one-score game. He then stripped Jared Milenkovic of the ball and Walker converted a layup with nine seconds left. Out of a timeout, Walker stole the ball from Jared Milinkovic, but Brian Smith stole it right back with two seconds on the clock. Smith was fouled and hit both free throws to make it a four-point game. Eli Vogel (Appleton, Wis./ Appleton West) hit a trey at the buzzer for the final margin.

The Yellowjackets received a team-leading 20 points, four assists and three steals from Walker, who was 7-of-14 from the field and 6-of-7 from the line. Patterson added 12 points and a team-high tying seven rebounds, while Vogel and Enrique Sanchez (Madrid, Spain/ IES María Guerrero) contributed 11 points apiece. Sanchez’s point total, five boards and three assists all represent career highs for the sophomore.

UWS was up as many as seven points in the first half when Walker completed a three-point play for a 12-5 lead with 7:25 gone. The ‘Jackets held a 31-30 advantage at the break. The Vikings eventually rallied to take a 54- 51 edge on a three-point play by Jaret Utpadel with 5:32 to play. The ‘Jackets closed to within one on three occasions in the final minutes, but did not regain the lead.

The Vikings will advance to the UMAC semifinals to face the College of St. Scholastica, while Superior’s season closes with a record of 3-4.