Ranked No. 9 by d3hoops.com, UW-Platteville (18-3, 9-2) defeated No. 18 UW-Stevens Point (15-6, 9-2) Wednesday night on Bo Ryan Court, 56-47.
A typically strong-starting Pioneers team jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held the Pointers scoreless until nearly six minutes into the first half when UW-Stevens Point got on the board with a Brett Tauber three.
UW-Platteville didn't give up another basket for three minutes, but were also shutout for close to six minutes themselves in the middle of the first half. Clay Gerds ended the scoreless streak with a layup, but the Pointers followed with a 7-0 run to put themselves up 16-12 with 8:33 left.
UW-Platteville responded with their own 7-0 run, and a tough Pioneers defense gave up just two points the rest of the half. With a ferocious block by Gerds as time expired, the Pioneers entered the locker room up 21-18. The first half scores were the lowest scoring halves either team has put together all season.
Quiet in the first 20 minutes, back-to-back layups by Robert Duax put UW-Platteville up 29-22 and forced UW-Stevens Point into a timeout. A basket by the Pointers' Canon O'Heron cut the lead to five, but a Carter Voelker three gave the Pioneers an eight point lead on the next possession.
After UW-Platteville stretched out their lead to eight two more times, UW-Stevens Point showed why they are one of the top teams in the country. Over a nine minute span, the Pointers held the Pioneers to just eight points, and with 3:42 remaining tied the game at 44-44 on a Brandon Spray jumper.
Following Spray's jumper, Quentin Shields immediately pulled up just inside the three-point line and knocked down the shot to put the Pioneers back on top. Two possessions later Shields put in a backdoor layup on a pass from Voelker to go up four. After stopping UW-Stevens Point on the ensuing possession, Duax scored on a put back with 43 seconds remaining for a 50-44 lead.
A Pointers missed three was rebounded by the Pioneers, and Shields knocked down six-of-six free throws to secure the win.
Shields scored a career high 21 points and came a rebound shy of a double-double. Duax was the only other Pioneer to score in double digits with 10, and Jake Showalter grabbed a season high 9 rebounds.
O'Heron led UW-Stevens Point with 14 points followed by Spray with 9. Mark Nelson and Spray each grabbed six rebounds for the Pointers.
With the win, UW-Platteville ties UW-Stevens Point for the top spot in the WIAC with just three games remaining on the conference schedule.
UW-Platteville travels to UW-Eau Claire this Saturday for a 5 p.m. game before returning to Bo Ryan Court for their final two games of the regular season.
By Korey Schroeder, Sports Information Assistant, UW-Platteville Athletics, 608.342.1255, firstname.lastname@example.org