Steven Crowell beats Bradley in NIT first round game at Wisconsin

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MADISON — Steven Crowell’s play was one of several issues addressed by Wisconsin coach Greg Gard after his team was bounced out in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The guard reiterated that he would like to see Junior look to score more often, especially in the lane.

Krall was aggressive from the opening minute Tuesday night at the Cole Center, scoring from inside and outside and arguably his best performance at UW.

He hit a total of 12 of 16 shots to score a college-high 36 points to help the Badgers beat Bradley 81–62 in the opening round of the NIT.

box score: Wisconsin 81, Wisconsin 62

The Badgers (18-14) advance to the second round on Sunday to host the third-seeded Liberty (27-8).

The Liberty advanced to Tuesday with a 62–57 win over Villanova.

Krall, who had just eight points and one rebound in 24 minutes in the loss to the Buckeyes, scored from almost everywhere on the floor against Bradley.

He hit 4 of 4 3-pointers and 6 of 9 shots and finished 5 of 7 from three-point range to help UW open the lead to 40–35. He made only 22 of 78 on the night on three-point attempts (28.2%).

Crowell also came in shooting just 60.3% from the free-throw line. He made 7 of 7 attempts on Tuesday and grabbed a team-best nine rebounds.

Max Kleismit added 16 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Wisconsin forward Steven Crowell grabs a rebound against Bradley forward Rienk Mast during the first half of their opening round NIT game Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Guards Connor Essejian and Chuckie Hepburn, who were 2 of 13 from three-point range and 6 of 22 overall in UW’s loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament, struggled again Tuesday night.

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Essegian was 1 of 6 from three-point range and 2 of 11 overall. However, he made 9 of 9 free throws and finished with 12 points and five rebounds.

Hepburn was 1 of 6 from three-point range and 1 of 7 overall. He finished with only three points but added five assists and three rebounds.

Tyler Wahl (11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) was limited to eight minutes in the opening half due to an apparent foot injury and foul trouble. He finished with three points, two rebounds and two assists.

The Badgers hit just 4 of 22 three-pointers in the loss to the Buckeyes, but made 8 of 25 attempts on Tuesday and completed 23 of 28 from the free-throw line.

Junior forward Rienk Mast (13.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) scored 14 points and Zeke Montgomery added 12 for Bradley.

Darius Hannah, a junior at Milwaukee Academy of Science, added 6 points and two rebounds for Bradley and fouled out with 6:44 remaining.

The Braves shot 35.9% from three-point range, but could only hit 5 of 23 attempts (21.7%) on Tuesday.

Pahal fell awkwardly in the opening half and eventually left the game and went to the locker room. He returned to the game after the Braves cut a 13-point deficit to three, but picked up his second foul with 4:54 left in the half and sat out the rest of the half.

Crowell scored from inside and outside in the first half.

His first three-pointer gave UW a 26–13 lead with 9:44 left in the half. His second gave UW a 37–29 lead with 3:49 remaining. His third, which he scored, gave UW a 40–33 lead with 39 seconds left.

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Duke Dean answered with a tough baseline jumper to cut UW’s lead to 40–35 at the break.

Wahl picked up his third foul of the game with 17:24 remaining, and headed to the bench.

UW held a 46–39 lead when Wahl fouled out, and back-to-back assists by Carter Gilmore helped the Badgers take a 50–41 lead with 15:46 left.

Bradley kept leaving Crowell open on the perimeter and he kept hitting three-pointers. His fifth of six attempts of the game, gave UW a 58–44 lead with 13:14 remaining and led to a Bradley timeout.

To that point in the game, Crowell had 29 points, seven rebounds and one assist in 24 minutes of action.

The Braves closed to within 10 points – twice – after that, but Crowell’s three-point play gave UW a 62–49 lead with 7:52 remaining. Essegian’s three-pointer – his first in six tries – extended the lead to 67–52 with 5:51 left.

The Badgers, 11–9 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime, could finally clinch down the stretch.

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More:What to know about Bradley, Wisconsin’s first opponent in the NIT

Wisconsin vs. Bradley Odds:Here’s the spread, money line and point totals for the NIT game

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This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Steven Crowell Puts In 36 Points To Lead Badgers Overtaking Bradley In NIT