MENOMONIE — The University of Wisconsin–Platteville men's basketball team opened Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with an 82–73 loss at UW–Stout.
Sophomore Colin Kramper (Downer's Grove, Ill.) made all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with a career-high 14 points off the bench to lead the Pioneers, but it came in a losing effort.
The home team had their own sharp-shooting super-sub Wednesday night. Senior guard Cory Speer came off the bench to make seven of the nine shots he took and scored a game and new career-high 21 points to lead the Blue Devils to their first conference victory since 2014, snapping a 34–game WIAC losing streak.
UW–Stout improved to 10–2 overall and 1–0 in the WIAC. UW–Platteville fell to 7–5, 0–1.
Speer had the hot hand early, making 5 of 6 from beyond the arc en route to 17 first-half points to lead the Blue Devils' shooting barrage. As a team, UW–Stout made 14 of 26 from 3-point land, 10 of 11 from the free throw line and finished the night shooting 53.7 percent from the field (29 of 54).
Junior John Keefe made 4 of 6 from distance and finished with 16 points and seven assists for the winners. Junior Sam Ortman added 16 points, four rebounds and three assists, and made all five of his free throw attempts for UW–Stout.
The Pioneers shot well themselves, making 12 of 28 3-point attempts.
Junior guard Trey Sigel (Rock Island, Ill.) made four 3-pointers and led the team in both points (16) and rebounds (six). Sophomore Robert Duax (Dubuque/Hempstead) added 13 points, four assists and three blocks, while senior forward Cory Vaassen (Dickeyville/Cuba City) had 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Junior Matt Oestreich (Marshfield) chipped in nine points and a team-best six assists.
UW–Stout led most of the first half and midway into the second, before Kramper ignited a UW–Platteville run. Kramper scored eight straight points for the Pioneers and his 3-pointer with 11:31 left in the game gave the visitors a brief 52–51 lead. But the Blue Deveils responded with a John Lahti layup on the next possession, and Isaac Elliott added a pair of free throws seconds later.
The winner pushed the lead to eight at 73–65 on a pair of Ortman free throws with 4:40 remaining.
UW–Platteville made one final push, as Sigel and Duax connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the deficit to just two points, but Keefe buried a 3-pointer with 1:15 left to make 76–71 and Brett Ahsenmacher hit a pull-up jumper on Stout's next possession. The Blue then Devils made four straight free throws in the final 19 seconds to close out the win.
The Pioneers returns to action Saturday night with another WIAC road game at UW–River Falls. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The 17th-ranked Falcons (11–1, 1–0 WIAC) opened conference play with a dramatic 60–59 victory over UW–Eau Claire Wednesday night.
By Jason Nihles, UW–Platteville Athletics