UWSP men’s basketball team home for La Crosse, Stout this week
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s
basketball team will look to regroup from back-to-back conference losses when
it hosts UW-La Crosse and UW-Stout in the next week.
Following a 64-59 loss to UW-Oshkosh (10-6, 3-2) at home
Saturday, Jan. 16, the Pointers (8-8, 1-4) held tight with Wisconsin
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) leader UW-River Falls (11-5, 5-0) on
the road Wednesday, Jan. 20, before River Falls pulled away in the final minute
for a 56-48 win.
UWSP will be back at home Saturday, Jan. 23, to take on
UW-La Crosse (10-6, 4-1) at 7 p.m. at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse, and
then will close out the first half of the WIAC schedule at home against
UW-Stout (4-11, 0-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27.
“We’re tired of words like ‘close’ and ‘almost’ and
‘should’ve’ or ‘could’ve’ or ‘if only,’” said UWSP men’s basketball head coach Bob
Semling. “We’re tired of competing for segments or even out-competing our
opponents for segments, but then having lapses where they have runs back on us.
“We’re working really hard to stay locked in and focused and
know why we’re losing and not make excuses, and not condone it, or say that
‘we’re younger than we’ve been’ or ‘we’re less experienced than we’ve been, so
it’s OK to lose,’” he said. “It’s not OK to lose.”
Coming off a 60-57 win at home against UW-Platteville (8-8,
2-3) on a three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left from senior guard Stephen
Pelkofer Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Pointers hosted Oshkosh Saturday, Jan. 16.
Down 15-12 with 6:22
to go in the first half, UWSP used a 9-1 run to build a 21-16 lead with 2:02 remaining in the half, before Oshkosh came back to
leave the game tied 21-21 at halftime.
Pelkofer scored the first 10 points of the second half for
the Pointers to give them a 31-28 lead with 15:34 to play, and UWSP held a 39-36 advantage with 11:01 to play when it used a 9-4
spurt to open up a 48-41 lead with 6:23
However, Oshkosh answered with three consecutive
three-pointers to take a 50-48 lead with 4:24 left and start a 14-0 run that
gave it a 55-48 lead with 1:51 to play, as the Pointers missed eight
consecutive shots from the field down the stretch and fell 64-59.
Pelkofer went 6-of-9 from three-point range and finished
with 26 points and six rebounds, while senior guard/forward Sean McGann had 19
points and five rebounds, as the rest of the team combined for 14 points in the
“In the second half we built the lead up to seven points,
and then just let our guard down,” said Semling. “Oshkosh has probably some of
the best three-point shooters (in the WIAC), their backs were against the wall
and they let it fly, and they hit four big threes to get themselves back in the
lead, and we went from up seven to down seven.
“And then when they had that run, we missed some shots,
Stephen missed some shots, Sean missed some shots, and we just don’t have
enough confident scorers around those two,” he said. “And that’s something
we’re working hard to try to develop, because we need to develop it yet this
year, and we certainly need to foster it for next year, that we have five guys
who can score.”
Saturday was also the Military Appreciation Game, where more
than $1,000 was raised in bucket donations before the game and at halftime,
with the proceeds to go to the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.
“Our intention was to try to raise awareness and to use our
venue to give the Honor Flight program and our Armed Forces a platform, and for
us as citizens to say ‘thank you’ and to acknowledge them at a sporting event
like that,” said Semling. “I didn’t really have a number in my mind, but that
money is going to really make a lifetime memory and a lifetime experience for a
number of families who get to get their loved ones over on one of those flights
to Washington D.C., to see the war memorials.
“And I think it’s really good for all of the young people
who are in the armed forces, to know that people are being respected and
honored that way later on in their lives, and that this is a nation where we
really value people who serve and protect our country, and are making that
sacrifice,” he said. “I have a nephew who was wounded in Iraq, and he’s my
godchild, so this means a lot to me personally. Anything to do with our armed
forces, Wounded Warriors, the Honor Flight, there’s so many of these good
causes, and we would like to keep helping them with a platform and to create awareness.”
The Pointers were back in action at WIAC leader River Falls
Wednesday night, where they got out to a 13-10 lead with 12:57 to go in the
opening half, before River Falls used a 15-1 run to build a 25-14 lead with
6:39 left in the half.
UWSP countered with a 7-0 run to pull within 25-21 with 4:00
to play in the first half, and went into halftime down 30-24.
The Pointers’ defense kept them in the game throughout the
second half, as they trailed 42-40 with 13:23 left, and then missed 10 consecutive
shots from the field before freshman guard Ethan Bublitz scored on a layup with
2:57 to go and freshman guard Drew Fredrickson followed with a three-pointer to
pull UWSP within 52-48 with 2:20 remaining.
However, those were UWSP’s only two field goals in the last
13 minutes of the game, and River Falls knocked down four free throws in the
final 1:13 to close out a 56-48 win that left it as the lone unbeaten team in
Bublitz finished with 10 points and five rebounds, Pelkofer
had nine points, sophomore forward/center Zack Goedeke added eight points and
seven rebounds and McGann chipped in with eight points, as the Pointers shot
19-of-57 from the field (33.3 percent) and 5-of-24 from three-point range (20.8
percent) to drop to sixth place in the WIAC at 1-4.
“Sean McGann and Billy Patterson, who have been here for
four years, they’ve played three seasons and only lost a total of four games in
the WIAC (before this season), so this is really unchartered territory, and it
requires all of us to circle the wagons,” said Semling. “We’ve got to really
stay united and come together as a team, and we’ve got to get it turned around
and be on a mission together.”
UWSP will play at home Saturday night against La Crosse,
which won at home 72-70 over UW-Whitewater (12-4, 3-2) last Saturday, and then
won at Stout 63-57 Wednesday night.
La Crosse is led this season by 6-2 senior guard Jared
Staege (14.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, 51.6 percent on three-pointers),
6-1 junior guard Devin Yurk (13.1 points), 6-4 freshman forward Ben Meinholz
(10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals), 6-7 junior forward Austin Fritz (8.2
points, 4.1 rebounds) and 6-5 senior forward Lucas Collom (3.8 points), a 2014 Honorable
Mention All-WIAC selection who missed last season due to injury.
“La Crosse has gone out and made a statement early on in the
season here, that they are going to be a team to be reckoned with, and they’re
a handful on the offensive end,” said Semling. “Devin Yurk from Sheboygan North
was a highly recruited kid, but he just went to school and didn’t want to play
basketball, he was on their campus and for two years he didn’t play, and then
he just decided he wanted to play now, and he’s an instant scorer and a really
good player for them.
“Fritz is a transfer from Carroll, he was a starter there,
and he has really given them a very good forward that has had
some real good games scoring,” he said. “And then Meinholz has really
risen up, he was on their roster last season, but he must’ve had a great
off-season and has really improved. And then you’ve got guys like Staege and Collom,
Staege we have tremendous respect for, and Collom is really tough to guard
because he’s an inside guy who also steps out and can knock in a three.”
The Pointers will close out the first half of the WIAC
season at home Wednesday against Stout, which
is led by 6-1 sophomore point guard John Keefe (14.2 points, 4.5 assists), 6-2
sophomore guard Jalen Patterson (9.1 points), 6-2 sophomore guard and former
Pacelli High School standout Isaac Elliott (7.6 points, 44.2 percent on
three-pointers), 6-0 junior guard Brett Ahsenmacher (7.4 points) and 6-5
sophomore forward John Lahti (6.1 points, 5.5 rebounds).
“They play a two-platoon system, they want to try to play
five guys in, five guys out, and they want to press and run and try to wear you
out and try to create a fast-paced game,” said Semling. “They want to try and
control and dictate tempo that way, and it’s important to be really poised
against them, to take care of the basketball and to play at your speed, not at