Everyone is on deck for men’s basketball from Wisconsin to Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas — University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard knew he’d have to beat Dayton every single one of his players.

Gard said he anticipates needing to use a deep bench. He faced 10 of his 12 scholarship players as the Badgers (4-0) cruised to a 43-42 victory over the Flyers (3-2) on Wednesday at Imperial Arena.

He didn’t expect UW leading scorers Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn to get another day off after their lackluster performance against UW-Green Bay. The pair were held to 2 of 18 shots against the Flyers.

That didn’t matter though, as the bench made up for the starters’ disappointing production. Three reserves accounted for 55.8% of the Badgers’ score. Connor Essegian, Markus Ilver and Isaac Lindsey went 7-of-15 from the field, including a 5-of-10 from 3-point range.

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Besides the three key reserves, starter Max Klesmit was the only other UW player to make a 3-pointer.

“Guys like Markus Ilver, Isaac Lindsey and Connor Essegian come in and hit some really big threes to keep us in the game and keep the two points (up) we had,” Klesmit said. “It’s just a tribute to those guys who come and work every day. We obviously see it all the time because we’re teammates, but just the prep practice they have in place.

It was Essegian’s fourth collegiate game. He knows his role and says it’s to give an attacking boost. That’s exactly what he did in his 19:28 on the court, especially on a 3:52 streak.

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The Badgers were just 1 for 7 from the field when Essegian hit a 3-pointer with 13:48 left in the first half. The freshman showed off his versatility when he landed a jump shot into the paint. Then he went back to what he’s known for – hitting 3 points.

Essegian had two more 3-point attempts in the first half, hitting one and earning a trip to the free throw line after Dayton’s Kobe Elvis committed a shooting foul. Essegian sank all three, en route to a career-high 13 points to lead the team.

He would score again in the second half after Dayton coach Anthony Grant was whistled for a technical foul. Typically, a veteran would take those free throws unguarded, but Essegian was introduced by second Chucky Hepburn down the line, where he added two more runs.

Ep. 27 BadgerExtra Podcast: Battle 4 Atlantis Preview

Essegian also had a strong defensive performance, drawing a foul that forced a turnover on Dayton’s Zimi Nwokeji. He also blocked an Elvis shot and prevented Flyers rookie Mike Sharavjamts from scoring in the dying seconds of the first half.

“It’s a great feeling,” Essegian said. “I just want to come in and bring that spark, whatever the team needs. At the time, it was a pretty low-scoring game and it kind of fell into place like that.

Wisconsin freshman guard Connor Essegian scored a career-high 13 points off the bench as the Badgers opened the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 43-42 victory Wednesday over the Dayton Flyers in the Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

Ilver came off the bench with 8:36 left in the first half but contributed little before the break with a rebound. The second had a more dominant performance in the second half, including a streak where he rushed for the basket after Wahl missed a shot. He gave the ball to Hepburn who then returned the ball to Ilver for an open 3-pointer.

The Flyers were closing in on the Badgers’ lead when Ilver hit his second 3-pointer of the game to turn a two-point lead into a five-point advantage. Gard said it was a huge moment for Ilver and the team as it helped build some momentum.

Lindsey also had a career-best outing with five points in the 9:07 he played. The second-year guard was the team’s second-leading scorer at halftime after making a layup and a 3-pointer. He also helped Carter Gilmore get a steal after Dayton’s Toumani Camara had a bad pass.

Gilmore played 19 minutes, during which he grabbed three rebounds with the steal. Chris Hodges even came off the bench to provide a break for a number of frontcourt players with all but Ilver at fault.

The victory shows the desire of the whole team to ensure that the bench can contribute. The UW bench contributed just 13.6% of points scored last season. The reserves now contribute 27.9% of the score from the first four games.

“I think these guys understand and have grown in terms of what they can do off the bench and are getting better,” Gard said. “Isaac is better. I think Markus is improving and understanding what can keep you grounded. It doesn’t have to be hitting. It’s taking care of the ball. It is to defend. It bounces. …When the opportunity arises, take advantage of it.

Photos: Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Wins Battle 4 Atlantis Opener

Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard gestures during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday in Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Dayton guard Kobe Elvis shoots as Wisconsin’s Isaac Lindsey defends during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday at Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Wisconsin guard Connor Essegian passes around Dayton guard Kobe Elvis during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday in Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit takes on Dayton guard Kobe Elvis in the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday in Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Dayton forward Toumani Camara is defended by Wisconsin forward Tyler Wahl during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday in Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Dayton forward Toumani Camara goes to the basket against Wisconsin defenders Tyler Wahl, left, and Max Klesmit in the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday at Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Dayton guard Mike Sharavjamts takes on Wisconsin guard Connor Essegian in the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday at Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Dayton forward Toumani Camara passes while being doubled by Wisconsin’s Chucky Helburn, left, and Carter Gilmore during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday at Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Wisconsin guard Carter Gilmore and Dayton guard Malachi Smith battle for the ball during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday at Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP





Wisconsin guard Connor Essegian reacts during the Badgers’ win over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday in Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Tim Aylen, Bahamas Visual Services via AP

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