No. 20 Pioneers split Pioneer Classic, fall at Buena Vista


Shelby LeDuc

Junior forward Jake Manning (34) is fouled on a layup in the first half against St. Olaf Nov. 24. The Pioneers lost the game 68-62, after scoring just 22 points in the second half. As of Tuesday, the Pioneers are 4-2 on the season.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville men’s basketball team, ranked No. 20 in the nation, lost two of three games before Wednesday, splitting a pair of games in the Pioneer Classic and losing a shootout at Buena Vista.

In the first game of the Pioneer Classic Nov. 23, the Pioneers held off a tough Simpson team for a 75-72 win. After the Pioneers had a five-point lead at halftime, Simpson outscored UW-Platteville 40-38 in the second half.

Pioneer junior guard Jim Stocki was tied for a game high 21 points with Simpson guard Dillon Gretzky. Stocki continued his streak of aggressiveness this season, driving to the basket and getting fouled more, getting 10 shots from the free-throw line.

UW-Platteville junior forward Jake Manning had 20 points and five rebounds, while senior center Chas Cross chipped in 15 points and eight boards.

The Pioneers then dropped the second game of the Pioneer Classic the following night, 68-62, to St. Olaf.

St. Olaf used a stingy second-half defense to hold UW-Platteville to 22 points in the half. Cross and fellow senior Eric Gerber led the Pioneers with 14 points, but the team was hampered by 18 turnovers.

Adding to the offensive woes, UW-Platteville shot just 27 percent from behind the three-point arc.

Head coach Jeff Gard’s squad was limited in the Pioneer Classic, as just eight players played in each game due to the university’s break for Thanksgiving.

The Pioneers hit the road to Storm Lake, Iowa, for a matchup with Buena Vista. The teams’ high-scoring affair saw the Pioneers fall 98-80 as the Beavers scored 60 second-half points.

UW-Platteville shot just 30 percent from deep and 45 percent overall in the game. Sophomore guard Boston Johnson led the team with 17 points, while Cross added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Pioneers are heading into a difficult December, as they will begin WIAC play and have just one home game. On the bright side, the team will travel to Las Vegas for the Classic Dec. 28-29.