Wisconsin handed Saint Mary's its first loss of the season with a 61-55 victory in the final of the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas. Johnny Davis had 20 points and Tyler Wahl added 18 points to lead the Badgers as they improved to 5-1.
The win concludes a strong run for Wisconsin in the early-season tournament. The Badgers edged No. 12 Houston on Tuesday to reach the final.
The Gaels fell to 6-1 with the loss. Alex Ducas had a team-high 13 points.
Notable Player Stats
G Johnny Davis, Wisconsin: 20 points, 7 rebounds
F Tyler Wahl, Wisconsin: 18 points, 4 blocks
G Alex Ducas, Saint Mary's: 13 points
F Dan Fotu, Saint Mary's: 11 points
Davis, Wahl Take Over in Second Half to Spark Badgers
Wisconsin struggled to gain momentum throughout the game, but the team had an ace up its sleeve in Johnny Davis.
The sophomore combo guard scored 11 of his 20 points in the second half to secure the win. Davis' three-pointer with 4:54 to go gave the Badgers their first lead since early in the first half, and they never looked back.
Evan Flood @Evan_Flood
Heeeeere's Johnny.<br><br>A stone cold triple by Johnny Davis gives the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Badgers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Badgers</a> their first lead since it was 8-6.<br><br>Tyler Wahl comes back with a runner.<br><br>UW leads St. Mary's 50-46 with 4:16 left.
But Davis wasn't alone. Tyler Wahl had 12 of his 18 points after halftime. He did a great job on defense as well, providing some much-needed rim protection and making the Gaels think twice about their drives to the basket. Wahl finished the game with four blocks.
Davis came into the game averaging 20.3 points. He will need his teammates to produce consistently if the Badgers hope to be successful this season. Wahl came in averaging 7.6 points and proved that he's capable of more with Wednesday's performance.
Wisconsin has a chance to make some noise in the Big Ten this year. Davis will continue to lead the team but he can't do it all, so the contributions from his teammates will be key to its success.
Gaels Pound The Ball Inside Early, Fall Apart Late
Both teams are known for playing physical games, but it was the Gaels who outmuscled the Badgers inside to start the game.
Saint Mary's made it a point to get to the rim early and often. Whether it was post-ups by the big men or strong drives by the perimeter players, the Gaels made their living close to the basket. Saint Mary's motion offense also made for some easy looks after hard cuts to the rim.
The Gaels had 20 of their 31 first-half points in the paint and shot 13-of-25 (52 percent) from the field. It was a sound strategy for Saint Mary's that carried them throughout the tournament.
But Wisconsin's defense picked up in the second half and limited the easy opportunities for the Gaels. The fouls started picking up, and Saint Mary's couldn't hold onto its lead. The team's 16 turnovers didn't help as the Badgers stormed back.
Saint Mary's finished the game with 34 points in the paint, surpassing their total against Notre Dame (28) and matching their performance against Oregon (34).
The Gaels should look to continue to outmuscle and overpower teams inside consistently instead of getting away from that strategy, as they did in the second half on Wednesday.
Wisconsin will have a week off and will return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 1, in a road matchup vs. Georgia Tech. Saint Mary's will look to bounce back on Monday at home against UC Riverside.