The University of Wisconsin-Platteville men's basketball team claimed the 2012 UW-Platteville Thanksgiving Tournament championship by defeating Wartburg College, 68-51, on Sunday afternoon on Bo Ryan Court.
The Pioneers' junior Chas Cross scored a game and season-high 17 points and added six rebounds, while senior Rob Stallion netted 12 points, going 4-5 from the floor and a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. Sophomore duo, Jake Manning and Jim Stocki, registered eight apiece and a combined nine boards. Junior point guard Eric Gerber handed out a career-tying seven assists with only one turnover and six rebounds.
The Knights were led by Mitchell Murphy, who recorded a team-high 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. Eddie Diemer tallied 11 points while going 4-6 from the floor.
The Pioneers took a 4-3 lead at the 17:21 mark and went on a seven-minute 15-4 run to capture a 19-7 lead.. A three-pointer by sophomore Wes Nemitz gave UW-Platteville its largest lead of the half, 24-8, with under seven minutes left in the period. Wartburg battled back to cut the Pioneers' lead to 12 points, 33-21, after shooting 24 percent in the first-half.
The Knights came out of halftime surging and cut their deficit to single-digits, 38-30, at the 16:10 mark thanks to a pair of field goals by Trevor Dismore and Diemer. The Pioneer defense held the Knights to just three points over the next seven minutes to take a 51-33 lead. The Knights continued to fight and went on an 11-2 run to cut the Pioneers' lead to nine, 53-44, with 6:35 left in the game. Stallion showed his senior leadership when Pioneers need him most and scored six of UW-Platteville's final 11 points sealing the Pioneers' 68-51 victory.
Stallion was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, while Cross, Murphy, Lancaster Bible's Corey Leonard and MacMurray's Clayton Whitlock earned all-tournament honors.
The Pioneers head to Augustana on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at 5-0 for the first time since UW-Platteville's NCAA Tournament run in 2009.