STEVENS POINT — The UW–Platteville men's basketball team shot 47 percent from 3-point land Wednesday night, connecting on 8 of 17 from beyond the arc, but it couldn't help end the Pioneers recent struggles.
Sophomore guard Robert Duax (Dubuque/Hempstead) dropped in four from long range and finished with a game-high 19 points points, but UW–Platteville fell to 1–12 in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with a 61–56 loss, their eight straight.
Duax hit back-to-back triples early in the first half to give coach Jeff Gard's Pioneers an early 8–5 with 16:09 left in the game.
Mark Nelson and Zach Goedeke scored back-to-back buckets for UWSP and the Pointers regained the lead. Bryce Williams scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the first half to lead the Pointers (13–10, 7–6 WIAC) to a 34–30 halftime lead.
Point held the Pioneers scoreless for the first 7:31 of the second half to extend the lead to 40–30 with before a tip-in by Cory Vaassen (Dickeyville/Cuba City) ended a the Pioneers' scoring drought with 13:29 left in the game.
Duax connected on his third trey moments later and junior guard Matt Oestreich's (Marshfield) layup on the ensuing UW–Platteville possession made it a three-point game at 40–37.
Point's Ethan Bublitz and Duax traded baskets, then sophomore center Clay Gerds (Fort Atkinson) scored inside for the Pioneers to make it a one-point game with 9:23 left at 42–41.
Freshman guard Carter Voelker (Kiel) scored five straight points on a pair of free throws and a 3-point play with 5:49 left to give the Pioneers a 46–45 edge. Duax scored the next trip down court to make it a three-point game.
Williams answered with a 3-point play for the Pointers, then after a pair of free throws by teammate Brad Freeborn, connected from 3-point land to give UWSP a 53–48 lead. The Pointers made six straight free throws in the final 38 seconds to put the game away and junior guard Trey Sigel (Rock Island) hit an inconsequential 3-pointer at the buzzer for UW–Platteville to account for the final score.
Voelker finished with nine points and four rebounds in the loss. Sophomore Colin Connelly (Guttenburg, Iowa) had eight points and Oestreich added six points, a team-high five assists and two teals.
UW–Platteville (8–16) will close out the season Saturday night at seventh-ranked UW–River Falls (21–3, 11–2 WIAC). Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The Falcons clinched the regular season WIAC title with a 68–63 win against UW–Whitewater on Saturday, but suffered an 83–30 loss at UW–Eau Claire Wednesday night.
By Jason Nihles, UW–Platteville Athletics