PLATTEVILLE — Senior forward Cory Vaassen (Dickeyville/Cuba City) scored a season-high 21 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds to lead the UW–Platteville men's basketball team Saturday night, but the Pioneers couldn't hold off visiting UW–La Crosse.
Kenny Finco scored a team-high 19 points to lead four Eagles in double figures as UWL outscored the Pioneers 49–36 in the second half to pull away for a 77–66 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win at Bo Ryan Court.
Vaassen and freshman Carter Voelker (Kiel) made back-to-back layups midway through the second half to pull UW–Platteville within a point at 46–45 with 9:42 left in the game.
But Finco responded with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, then assisted on a Zach Schradle 3-pointer moments later to make it a 7-point game. Finco hit a short jumper with 7:30 left to make it 56–48.
The Pioneers once again made it a one possession at 56–53 on a Trey Sigel (Rock Island, Ill.) triple with just under seven minutes left, but UWL answered with a 10–2 run to build a commanding 11-point lead with less than three minutes to play.
Vaassen and junior Dan Lowe (Byron, Ill.) each made a pair of free throws to trim the deficit to seven at 66–59, but the Eagles made 11 of 12 free throws in the final 1:31 — 6 of 6 from Finco — to put the game away.
Ryan Kruser and Schradle each finished with 16 points for the winners. Schradle added nine rebounds. Ben Meinholz chipped in 15 points and six boards.
Lowe finished with 13 points and six rebounds for the Pioneers, while sophomore Robert Duax (Dubuque/Hempstead) added a season-high 13 points off the bench. Sigel finished with eight points, while sophomore Colin Kramper (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Voelker had six and fives points respectively.
The Pioneers fell 8–9 overall and 1–5 in the WIAC, while the visiting Eagles improved to 10–7, 2–4.
Coach Jeff Gard's Pioneers will return to action Wednesday at UW–Eau Claire. The Blugolds fell to 13–4 and 3–3 in the WIAC with an 89–69 loss at UW–Stevens Point Saturday night.
By Jason Nihles, UW–Platteville Athletics