Pioneers move on to WIAC Championship

Victory over the Pointers sends the Pioneers into the first round of competition.


Jacob Thomas Photo Pioneers’ Robert Duax setting up for a shot on the basket.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneers beat the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers 55-50 on Saturday. The first half started out rocky for the Pioneers who fell and stayed behind by one point through the first couple of time-outs and breaking even at 9-9 near the end of the first half. 

“At the beginning, it looked like Stevens Point was going to win because it seemed like the Pioneers were asleep. I remember saying ‘wake up,’” junior forensic investigation major Kate McKinny said.

Due to a solid defense by Justin Stovall and a decisive early 3-point shot by Kyle Tuma, the Pioneers’ survived to halftime at 17-18.

“On the defensive side of things, we were very good. We played one of the better defensive games all year,” Pioneers’ men’s basketball head coach Jeff Gard said.

At halftime, the visiting crowd supporting the Pointers were boisterously expressing their support, and the Pioneers’ cheer squad gave the team time to rally.

“The coach said something, and they [Pioneers] got all fired up,” McKinny said.

The second half started with the Pioneers exercising their good defense, closing the score gap to 21-20. The Pioneers’ offense was revitalized by Robert Duax and Quentin Shields who pushed the score to 25-20 by the first time-out of the second half. 

“Offensively, it took a while to get into a flow, into more of a rhythm. In the second half, we made a few little adjustments, like more penetration at the rim to create more of an opportunity for us,” Gard said.

The Pointers answered the Pioneers’ offense by reciprocating one of Tuma’s several 3-point shots within 10 seconds. Stevens Point’s Nate Dodge also landed a 3-point shot, bringing the score to 29-24.

“At the beginning, I remember saying to myself ‘get your stuff together,’ and by the second half, they really pulled through,” McKinny said. 

Halfway through the second period the Pioneers capitalized on their lead and snowballed the score to 44-27 before Stevens Point’s Dodge and Ethan Bublitz levelled the score to 44-32.

 “It’s more about our guys calming down and moving the ball,” Gard said.

Near the end of the game, Duax resisted a steal and landed a few shots to all but cement the game at 46-34. Later, Duax attempted a shot and was assisted by Clay Gerds, bringing the score to 48-36.

“We have a confident group of guys. They know what it takes, and they put the work in, so it’s just a matter of them executing. We’re going into the conference now,” Gard said.

In the last few minutes, Shields was given two rounds of foul shots and sunk every one. The Pointers were able to sneak in another 3-point shot to round off the final score to 55-50.