The New Zealand Breakers Select, after leading with six minutes to play, were defeated 85-75 by Wisconsin University Badgers at Atlas Place on Tuesday.
Kirk Penney, the tenth leading scorer in Wisconsin history and a member of the UW Athletics Hall of Fame, didn’t suit up for the game but received a warm round of applause from the travelling Wisconsin supporters when he entered the gym.
The Breakers featured just two contracted players Mika Vukona and Tom Abercrombie.
The pair boast a collective 568 appearances for the club and used that experience to good effect in the opening exchanges. Abercrombie converted an And-1 play on the opening possession and Vukona scored inside.
Abercrombie proceeded to dominate the back end of the quarter scoring with a dunk, another And-1 play and a brace of threes on four consecutive possessions as the hosts carved out a 24-15 quarter time lead.
D’Mitrik Trice, brother of Brisbane Bullets point guard Travis Trice, got things moving for the Badgers with a couple of triples as they wrestled the lead away from the Breakers. Despite a couple of jumpers from Academy player Kruz Perrott-Hunt the Badgers led 44-42 at half-time.
Super City Rangers forward Hyrum Harris impressed in the third stanza for the Breakers notching eight points in the period with a succession of left handed moves. Cantabrian point guard Taylor Britt scored with a slashing drive to tie the game up at 57 points apiece at three-quarter time.
Things looked promising for the hosts during the opening exchanges of the final quarter. Britt, with his jump shot in rhythm, made four baskets in four minutes and with Harris and Dan Fotu chiming in with scores the Breakers led 69-63 with 5:50 to play.
The Badgers, led by sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl (28 points including 7 from 9 from 3-point range) responded with a 14-0 run to take the game away from the Breakers.
Tom Abercrombie connected with his fifth triple of the night to narrow the advantage to 81-74 with 2:10 to play but it was the Badgers that had the final say in front of a substantial number of travelling fans.
Wisconsin’s five game tour resumes on Thursday when the Badgers play in Tauranga in their second game against Breakers Select before heading to Australia for games against Sydney Kings and Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers Select 75 – Abercrombie 31, Britt 17, Harris 13, Vukona 4, Fotu 4, Perrott-Hunt 4, Barrow 2
Wisconsin 85 – Pritzl 28, Happ 17, Davison 13