The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


Men win WIAC home opener over Blugolds

With 3:30 remaining and the Pioneers clinging to a six-point lead, junior forward Chas Cross blocked a shot, recorded a steal and then was fouled on a made lay-up, a sequence that sparked his teammates and the crowd, helping the Pioneers secure a 56-48 win over the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Dec. 5.

“It was really about our defense getting stops in key situations,” Cross said.

Pioneer head coach Jeff Gard also credited the defense with the Pioneers picking up their first home WIAC win of the young season.

“It helps when you build a big lead early, but the defense really is what won it for us tonight,” Gard said.  “We got some steals and rebounds in big spots.”

That early lead was a 15-1 start from the Pioneers, who effectively broke down the Blugolds’ man-to-man defense and got to the basket for easy layups. But when UW-Eau Claire switched into a zone defense, the Pioneers struggled to score, and the Blugolds crawled back into the game.

“They really packed in the zone, and we got a little flustered,” junior guard Eric Gerber said. “We needed to slow down a bit and get back in our rhythm.”

After a buzzer-beating three-pointer from UW-Eau Claire’s Dustin Kalien, the teams went into halftime tied at 25.

At halftime, Gard said his team was determined.

“This team is not going to settle for average,” Gard said. “Eau Claire’s a good team, but it was really about how we were playing (in the first half). Our captains did a good job of keeping the team focused.”

The Blugolds came out in a man-to-man defense to start the second half, and again the Pioneers were able to score effectively, building an eight-point lead after five minutes of play.

However, the Blugolds would switch to a zone again, and the Pioneers shooting went cold. UW-Eau Claire brought the lead down to three at 39-36, and that was where the score would remain for the next four minutes, as missed shots, fouls and turnovers dominated play.

Thirty-one personal fouls were called in the contest, but the Pioneers did not feel that the frequent whistles affected the flow of the game.

“That’s a typical WIAC game,” Gerber said. “It’s going to be a bruiser throughout.”

The Pioneers’ shots were off frequently on the night, going 18-53, just 34 percent. Pioneers’ sophomore guard Trevor Wittwer, whose three-point shooting has been an asset off the bench for UW-Platteville, shot just 1-5, and the Pioneers’ bench only scored six points.

Gerber and Cross led the Pioneers through the offensive struggles, scoring 17 and 16 points, respectively.  Cross also lead the Pioneers with nine rebounds.

Going forward, Gard wants to see his team commit fewer turnovers and be more active on the court.

“We were flat-footed on offense and a bit slow on defense at times,” Gard said. “We have to move the ball faster and move better on defense. Overall, just take the next step.”

The Pioneers slipped in their Dec. 8 game against the University of Wisconsin-Stout 64-55. UW-Platteville’s defense was unable to slow down hot-shooting Blue Devil forward Alex Oman, who shot 7-11, including 4-6 from behind the arc.

After the first nine minutes of the game, the teams were deadlocked at 12, but then UW-Stout went on an 11-2 run, giving them a lead they never relinquished.

The Pioneers only trailed by five at the half, and cut the deficit to three on their first possession of the second half. However, that was as close as they would get. The Blue Devil’s built a double-digit lead and held it for nearly all the final 11 minutes of action.

Sophomore guard Jim Stocki led the Pioneers with 14 points against UW-Stout, followed by Gerber with 13. Cross missed a double-double, recording nine points and 11 boards.

The Pioneers lost to No. 4 North Central College on the road on Tuesday, 73-64.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Exponent Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Men win WIAC home opener over Blugolds