PLATTEVILLE — Freshman guard Carter Voelker (Kiel) scored 16 of his career-high 18 points in the second half to lead the UW–Platteville men's basketball team to a come-from-behind 76–71 WIAC victory over visiting UW–Stevens Point Wednesday night at Bo Ryan Court.
Voelker went 11 of 11 from the free throw line and put the finishing touched on the Pioneers' five-point win with a pair of freebies with three seconds left after securing a defensive rebound. Voelker finished with six boards in 29 minutes of the bench.
UW–Platteville improved to 8–8 and 1–4 in the WIAC with the victory that ended a four-game losing streak. The Pioneers are now 6–1 at home, but just 2–7 awry from the friendly confines of Bo Ryan Court.
Sophomore guard Robert Duax (Dubuque/Hempstead) scored a game-high 24 points, six assists and two rebounds. He also made 9 of 10 from the free throw line as the Pioneers shot a combined 86.2 percent (25 of 29) from the charity stripe for the game, including 22 of 23 in the second half.
Junior forward Dan Lowe (Byron, Ill.) added nine points and a team-high six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. Senior Corey Vaassen (Dickeyville/Cuba City) had eight points, three rebounds and three assists and sophomore Colin Connelly (Guttenburg, Iowa) also had eight points and three boards in just his third start of the season.
Ethan Bublitz scored a team-high 17 points to go along with three rebounds for the visiting Pointers (8–7, 2–3). Mark Nelson added 13 points, five boards and two assists for the visitors.
Bublitz and MJ Delmore hit back-to-back 3-pointers early on as UWSP raced out to an 8–2 lead. The Pointers led throughout the first half, taking its largest lead of the game at 24–12 on a Bublitz breakaway dunk with 7:01 left in the opening half.
Coach Jeff Gard's Pioneers clawed back within three points at 28–25 on a Trey Sigel (Rock Island, Ill.) triple, but trailed 33–27 at the half.
The Pioneers used a 7–0 run early in the second half to take their first lead of the game at 40–39 with 15:20 remaining on a Duax layup, but Point responded with a Mark Nelson 3-pointer moments later.
UWSP extended its lead to 10 at 54–45 with 11 minutes left on another Nelson trey and a Bryce Williams 3-point play, but the Pioneers refused to buckle.
The Pioneers got Point in foul trouble and made six straight free throws — four from Voelker and two from Duax — then Connelly buried a 3-pointer from the corner to make it a 3-point game at 57–54.
The Pointers began to pull away again with back-to-back layups, but again UW–Platteville reeled them in. Duax made two free throws and a layup, and Voelker's 3-point play tied the game at 61–61 with 5:22 left. Moments later Duax made a steal and converted the fast break lefty layup to give the Pioneers the lead.
The lead changed hands four times over the next four minutes, but Voelker gave UW–Platteville the lead for good with a pair of free throws with 1:20 to play. After a key steal by Vaassen, Duax made two more from the line to make it 74–71 with 11 seconds left, and after a Pointer miss, Voelker iced the victory with two more clutch free throws.
UW–Platteville will return to action Saturday night at Bo Ryan Court when UW–La Crosse comes to town for a 7 p.m. tip. The Eagles (9–7, 1–4 WIAC) dropped a 91–76 decision to WIAC-leading UW–River Falls (15–1, 5–0) Wednesday night.
By Jason Nihles, UW–Platteville Athletics