UW-Platteville earned an important road victory Saturday, beating UW-La Crosse 74-67 and setting up a huge battle for first place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Wednesday night.
The Pioneers, ranked 20th in the D3hoops.com poll, improved to 18-3 overall and 8-2 in the WIAC. They remain one game behind league-leading UW-Stevens Point, who visits Williams Fieldhouse Wednesday at 7 p.m. for one of the biggest contests on Bo Ryan Court in years. The Pointers, who beat UW-River Falls 66-64 Saturday night, are 15-6, 9-1.
"That was a hard-fought win," Pioneer Coach Jeff Gard said. "Any time you can sneak one out on the road in the WIAC, you'll take it. La Crosse has a very good team that will be a tough draw in the WIAC tournament."
The Pioneers completed a season sweep of that tough Eagles squad. UW-Platteville won in the final seconds on its home court, 63-62, three weeks ago.
In the rematch, the visitors sprinted out to an early 24-15 advantage, then went on a 13-5 run to take its largest lead, 37-20. A three-point basket at the buzzer by the Eagles' Tauvlish McCrary cut the lead to 43-37 at the half. In the second period, UW-L trimmed a 63-52 deficit down to 65-61, but Robert Duax hit 1-2 free throws, and Carter Voelker converted a three-point play in the lane for a 68-61 Pioneer lead. The Eagles again crept within 69-65 in the final minute, but Duax drained a game-ending three-pointer with 26 seconds left for a 72-65 advantage.
Ben Meinholz led the Eagles (11-10, 3-7) with 14 points, while Brandon Manning and Sam Skoyen each scored 10.
By Paul Erickson, Director, UW-Platteville Communications, 608.342.1194, firstname.lastname@example.org