Gritty, not pretty.
How else would you describe Wisconsin’s 43-42 victory over Dayton in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday?
UW missed its final six field-goal attempts and 16 of its last 17 but held on because of its defense.
Max Klesmit had a critical block with one second left on the shot clock and two seconds left in the game. The Flyers got the ball in but couldn’t get a shot off in time.
UW’s Tyler Wahl inbounded long to Klesmit, who went up high for the catch and time expired.
The Badgers (4-0) advance to meet No. 3 Kansas (5-0) at 10 a.m. Thursday.
BOX SCORE: Wisconsin 43, Dayton 42
Kansas got 76 points and 32 rebounds from its starting five in an 80-74 victory over North Carolina State in the first game of the tournament.
UW prevailed despite getting just 19 points from its starting five.
Steven Crowl had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the starters. Klesmit added three points and five rebounds. Jordan Davis had two points and eight rebounds.
Wahl (three points) and Chucky Hepburn (two points) combined to hit just 2 of 18 shots.
Connor Essegian led UW with 11 points, all in the first half. Fellow reserves Markus Ilver scored six points and Isaac Lindsey added five.
Kobe Elvis scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to help the Flyers (3-2) rally from a 34-24 deficit.
UW’s starters combined for just seven points on 3-for-20 shooting in the opening half but the Badgers managed to grind out a 23-14 lead thanks largely to Essegian and Lindsey.
Essegian hit 2 of 3 three-pointers, 3 of 5 shots overall and three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt for 11 points in 11 minutes.
Lindsey played four minutes in the first half in place of Hepburn and contributed five points, one rebound and one assist.
UW led, 16-14, when Lindsey scored on a lay-in off a feed from Crowl. Lindsey then fed Crowl for a basket and hit a three-pointer coming out of a timeout to cap a 7-0 run and give UW a 23-14 halftime lead.
Dayton went scoreless over the final 5:02 and finished the half 2 of 16 from three-point range and 6 of 29 overall.
The Badgers built the nine-point lead by winning the battle for second-chance points (6-0) and points off turnovers (8-2).
UW held a 34-24 lead after Crowl scored inside with 13:45 left but with both Hepburn and Wahl in foul trouble and on the bench, the Badgers started rushing shots.
The Flyers took advantage and got 10 points from Elvis to pull within 37-36 with 7:45 left and finally pulled into a 39-39 tie on a three-pointer by Mustapha Amzil with 4:56 left.
Wahl, scoreless to that point, then scored on a post-up move and was fouled with 4:38 left. He hit the free throw for a 42-39 lead.
Crowl took a feed from Wahl and was fouled on the shot with 3:17 left. He hit 1 of 2 shots for a 43-39 lead.
The Flyers got a put-back and DaRon Holmes was fouled with 59.7 seconds left. Holmes hit 1 of 2 attempts to pull Dayton within 43-42.
UW had the ball but had made just 1 of its last 16 field-goal attempts. Who would get the shot on the critical possession?
Crowl got the ball at the rim but his shot was stuffed and the Flyers called a timeout with 24.4 seconds left, 23 on the shot clock.
The Flyers couldn’t get a clean look and called another timeout, with second seconds on the shot clock and 8.5 left in the game.
UW’s defense, which limited Dayton to 30.2% shooting (16 of 53) held one last time.
The Badgers, who hit just 14 of 59 shots, survived and advanced.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Badgers struggle to score but beat Dayton in Battle 4 Atlantis