Feb 11, 2018
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — With two mega important home games coming up to close the season with a chance to win the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the UW-Platteville men's basketball team first had a trap game on hand at a UW-Eau Claire team better than its record might show.
The Pioneers put to bed very early any ideas they were looking ahead.
UW-Platteville shot a blistering 61.3 percent from the floor, including 73 percent after halftime, in an 87-50 win over the Blugolds at Zorn Arena on Saturday night.
"We've talked about this all year long of just controlling what we can control," Coach Jeff Gard said. "Control our environment and our mental game and staying in the moment as well. That's the great thing about this group is that they've stayed pretty balanced."
The ninth-ranked Pioneers used a 14-0 run after the first media timeout, and UW-Eau Claire never got closer than eight points away the rest of the night.
Matt Oestreich had it going early and often, shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor to finish with a game-high 18 points.
Robert Duax played both scorer and distributer, adding 16 while dishing out five assists.
The Blugolds had no answer for either Clay Gerds down low (14 points, 10 rebounds) or Quentin Shields' quickness off the bench (14 points) in a balanced effort.
"From an offensive efficiency side of things, we are moving the ball well, and it's a group that's really unselfish," Gard said. "They aren't really worried about who is getting in. They move and space the floor well and they are playing for each other. That's the thing that makes this group so enjoyable."
Trey Sigel hit three straight 3s in the second half to finish with nine.
As well as UW-Platteville played offensively, its defense also answered the call. The Pioneers limited the Blugolds to just 33.1 percent from the floor and outrebounded them 43-19.
"This group has some scorers who can put the ball in the hole, but they've taken a pride to what they are doing defensively as well, generating a little bit of energy from defensive stops to the offensive end of the floor," Gard said.
The Pioneers improved to 20-3, 10-2, and stayed pace with UW-Stevens Point on top of the WIAC. UW-Platteville hosts UW-Whitewater on Wednesday and UW-River Falls on Saturday in what are two of the bigger home games in recent memory.
It's that way because they took care of business on the road Saturday.
"To go on the road in the WIAC is a challenge as it is," Gard said. "Any victory you can steal, no matter what the margin is, you're going to take it. And then obviously understand that, hey you've got to get better the next day and now we're fortunate we have to go back home to protect the home floor on Wednesday night."
Story courtesy of Platteville native Nick Erickson of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.