Pelkofer’s three-pointer caps late rally to give UWSP win over Platteville
In danger of falling to 0-3 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference (WIAC), the defending NCAA Division III National Champion
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s basketball team used a
three-pointer from senior guard Stephen Pelkofer with 0.6 seconds left to beat
UW-Platteville (6-8, 0-3) at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse Wednesday, Jan.
Following a pair of road losses to UW-Eau Claire (9-5, 2-1)
and 14th-ranked UW-Whitewater (11-3, 2-1) last week, the Pointers (8-6, 1-2)
trailed UW-Platteville 57-52 with 1:37 to play when they went on an 8-0 run to
pull out a 60-57 win on Pelkofer’s three-pointer.
UWSP will be back home to face UW-Oshkosh (9-5, 2-1) at 3
p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, in the Military Appreciation Game, and then will play
at WIAC leader UW-River Falls (9-5, 3-0) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20.
“We needed this so badly, to win a game where we didn’t play
well, and they did play well,” said UWSP men’s basketball coach Bob Semling,
who recorded his 250th career win with the victory over Platteville. “It just
had a real awkward feel, and we struggled
“But despite all of that, our guys kept saying, ‘we’ve got
to find a way to win this game,’” he said.
After losing 63-59 at UW-Eau Claire in their WIAC opener
Wednesday, Jan. 6, the Pointers traveled to take on 14th-ranked Whitewater
Saturday, Jan. 9.
UWSP jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 17:03 left in the first
half and held a 23-18 advantage with 6:04 to go in the first half, before
Whitewater used a 10-0 run to take a 28-23 lead with 1:51 remaining in the first
half and carried a 28-25 lead into halftime.
The game remained tight early in the second half, as UWSP
was down 35-34 with 14:15 to play, when Whitewater went on an 18-0 run to build
a 53-34 lead with 7:32 left.
However, the Pointers answered with a 21-4 run to pull
within 57-55 on a three-pointer from sophomore guard Luke Zuiker with 2:01 to
go, but Whitewater used back-to-back layups from freshman point guard Andre
Brown to extend its lead to 61-55 with 1:16 remaining and held on for a 69-63
Senior guard/forward Sean McGann finished with 19 points and
five assists, Pelkofer had 18 points and Zuiker added nine points for UWSP in
“We played them even or were the better team, and then for
seven minutes, from 14 minutes down to seven minutes left in the second half,
we just had a kind of a collapse,” said Semling. “They hit a few shots, and we
can’t match it, we can’t stop it, and their lead goes from five to seven to 11
to 13 to 15 to 18, and that’s where you have to be good enough on both ends of
the floor, and we’re not right now.”
UWSP was at home Wednesday night against Platteville, which
got out to a 13-7 lead with 11:41 to go in the first half and held a 30-25
advantage with 2:51 remaining.
However, the Pointers went on a 6-0 run, capped by a shot
from McGann with four seconds left, to take a 31-30 lead into halftime.
UWSP extended the run to 12-0 to increase its lead to 37-31
with 18:22 to go in the second half, but Platteville countered with a 9-2 spurt
to take a 40-39 lead with 14:52 to play, and the game remained tight the rest
of the way.
The Pointers held a 46-43 lead with 7:55 left, but
Platteville answered with a 7-0 run to go up 50-46 with 4:37 to go and used a
three-pointer from senior guard Peyton River to increase its lead to 57-52 with
UWSP freshman guard Ethan Bublitz knocked down a pair of
free throws with 1:22 remaining and came up with a block on the defensive end,
and freshman guard Drew Fredrickson followed with a three-pointer to tie the
game at 57-57 with 26 seconds to play.
Platteville had a chance to take the lead, but Bublitz
picked off an errant pass with 9.6 seconds left.
Following a Pointer timeout, Pelkofer took a pass from
McGann and knocked down the game-winning three-pointer to give UWSP a 60-57
victory, as Platteville’s desperation shot at the buzzer bounced off the
“Sean was open on the tight cut and we thought we could get
a quick two there, but I’m glad we knocked in the three,” said Semling. “We
were going for a quick two down here with Sean in the post, but they
double-teamed him and he had the poise to find his teammate, and we went to the
“We said we were either going to drive it to the rim and get
to the free-throw line, and Sean’s going to win it there, or if they double
him, Stephen’s going to hit a big shot,” he said. “And that’s exactly what
Pelkofer was 9-of-13 from the field and finished with 24
points and seven rebounds, while McGann added 12 points and four rebounds for
the Pointers, who will be home Saturday to face Oshkosh at 3 p.m. in a game
that was moved up from 7 p.m. due to the Green Bay Packers’ Playoff Game against
the Arizona Cardinals Saturday night.
Saturday’s game will be the Military Appreciation Game, as
the Wisconsin National Guard 132nd Army Band will perform prior to the game and
at halftime, and all monetary donations will go to support the Never Forgotten
“We had a Youth Day and then when 9/11 happened and our
country was at war, we had Honor America Day, and we eventually combined Youth
Day and Honor America Day and ran those two events together,” said Semling.
“But now we’re going to split them again, we had our Youth Day (Dec. 12), and
every year we want to do something to either honor troops or fallen soldiers or
“But we chose to do the Honor Flight program, which a number
of our Backcourt Club members have experienced, either as somebody who’s been a
partner or chaperone to help somebody get there, or somebody themselves that
has been honored and been able to go see the War Memorial and go to Washington,
D.C.,” he said. “And our purpose for this is to give respect and to give
honor to those who have made sacrifices for our country. Hopefully our fans
will really jump on board with this and feel connected and feel that they’ll be
motivated to want to help out and give.”
Oshkosh beat the Pointers 50-47 at home in the WIAC
Tournament Semifinals last season to hand the eventual National Champions their
final loss of the season, and returned all five starters from a year ago.
Following a 76-75 overtime loss at River Falls in its WIAC
opener Jan. 6, Oshkosh won 86-81 at Platteville Jan. 9 and beat UW-La Crosse
(8-6, 2-1) Wednesday night to improve to 2-1 in the conference, and is led by
First Team All-WIAC 6-1 senior point guard Alex Olson (12.6 points per game),
6-1 freshman guard Ben Boots (12.4 points, 50 percent on three-pointers), 6-1
sophomore guard Charlie Noone (12.2 points, 44.4 percent on three-pointers) and
6-1 junior guard Kyle Bolger (6.7 points, 2.8 assists).
“They’re going to be a handful, because they returned
everybody and their personnel is even better,” said Semling. “They’ve got a
couple of key recruits that are able to come in and play right away, and play
well, so they’re deep and they’re very good offensively.”
UWSP will be on the road Wednesday to face River Falls,
which is in sole possession of first place in the WIAC after it won at
Whitewater Wednesday night, after it trailed 40-30 at halftime and 68-65 with
2:45 left, when it used a 10-2 run to close out a 75-70 victory.
River Falls has been led this season by First Team All-WIAC
6-6 senior forward Jon Christensen (21.7 points, 8.5 rebounds), 6-5 junior
forward Garret Pearson (14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds), 6-0 sophomore guard CJ Lewis
(9.8 points) and 6-5 senior forward Jack Herum (7.5 points, 5.6 rebounds),
while the team is 4-1 since First Team All-WIAC 5-9 junior point guard Grant
Erickson (10.1 points, 4.4 assists per game last season) returned Dec. 29 after
he missed the first nine games of this season due to injury.
“They’re a very fast team in transition because of Erickson,
and then they get right into their offense with pace, and they are a very good
ball-screening team and flair-screening team, and they
use the post pretty darn well,” said Semling. “But that’s going to be our chance to
go back out on the road and see if we can get our first (conference) road win,
and I know it means a lot to our staff and a lot to our guys to be able to go
over there and to be consistent for 40 minutes and give ourselves that