UWSP men’s basketball at Oshkosh Saturday, hosts Whitewater Wednesday
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s
basketball closed off the first half of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic
Conference (WIAC) season with a win over UW-Stout (4-13, 0-7) Wednesday, Jan.
Following a 69-67 win at home over UW-La Crosse (11-7, 5-2)
Saturday, Jan. 23, the Pointers (10-8, 3-4) beat Stout 68-51 at Bennett Court
at Quandt Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
UWSP will play at UW-Oshkosh (11-7, 4-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday,
Jan. 30, and then will host UW-Whitewater (12-6, 3-4) at Wednesday, Feb. 3.
“With what happened last Saturday, with us beating La
Crosse, River Falls going down at Platteville, Whitewater getting beat again by
Eau Claire; that might serve notice one more time about how this league is
completely up for grabs,” said UWSP men’s basketball head coach Bob Semling.
“Anything could happen.
“It’s a great opportunity for us, and that’s the way that we
have to look at it,” he said. “We can make a statement that we had a poor start
in the WIAC, but that we aren’t going away and that we’re on a mission to
become a significant factor in the second round, and in the WIAC Tournament.”
After a 56-48 loss at WIAC leader UW-River Falls (11-7, 5-2)
Wednesday, Jan. 20, dropped the Pointers to 1-4 in the conference, they
returned home Saturday night to host La Crosse, which had a chance to move into
a tie atop the WIAC with a win.
UWSP held a 12-10 lead with 15:21 left in the first half,
before it knocked down 5-of-6 from three-point range in a 24-9 run and built a 36-19 lead with 5:40 to play in the first half, and went
into halftime with a 45-32 lead.
The Pointers led by at least eight for the early part of the
second half and held a 54-43 advantage with 13:02 to go, when La Crosse when on
a 9-0 run to pull within 54-52 with 8:15 remaining.
After a three-point play from freshman guard Mark Nelson
brought the lead to 57-52 with 7:10 to go, La Crosse junior guard Devin Yurk
scored on a layup and back-to-back three-pointers to give La Crosse its first
lead of the game at 60-58 with 5:43 to play and come all the way back from a
17-point first-half deficit.
“We kept our poise, I thought our determination was greater,
and we heard the right things in the huddle,” said Semling. “Guys talking
about, ‘we’re not losing this game, we’re not going to allow them to take this
game from us.’”
UWSP answered with back-to-back layups from freshman guard
Ethan Bublitz and senior guard Stephen Pelkofer to take a 62-60 lead with 4:31
to go and never trailed until La Crosse junior guard Kenny Finco hit a
three-pointer to put his team ahead 66-64 with 1:20 left.
However, Nelson buried a three-pointer from the corner with
59 seconds to go to put the Pointers ahead 67-66, before Yurk hit one of two
free throws to tie the game at 67-67 with 34 seconds remaining.
Looking to give UWSP the lead, senior guard/forward Sean
McGann was fouled with 15 seconds left as he went up in traffic in front of the
basket, and he proceeded to knock down a pair of free throws to put the team up
La Crosse had a couple of chances to tie it, but senior
Jared Staege missed a jumper with five seconds remaining and sophomore forward
Ben Meinholz picked up the rebound and missed a jumper from the baseline with
one second left, as the Pointers held on for a 69-67 win.
McGann scored 16 points, Pelkofer was 4-of-6 from
three-point range and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, Bublitz had
14 points and six rebounds and Nelson added 10 points and eight rebounds off
“A week before we lost that tough game at home to Oshkosh, but a week later,
we prevailed and we looked like we learned how to win,” said Semling. “We look
like we figured it out, that we understood how tough you’ve got to be down the
stretch on both ends of the floor, and we were able to overcome a really hot shooting
La Crosse team.
“We were able to score enough and stop them enough to be
able to hold them off and win that game,” he said.
The Pointers were back home Wednesday night against Stout,
where they held a 17-16 lead with 9:41 to go in the first half, and then used
eight points each from junior forward Brad Freeborn and freshman guard Drew
Fredrickson to spark a 23-6 run that gave the team a 40-22 lead at halftime.
UWSP opened up a 53-28 lead with 12:20 remaining and rolled
the rest of the way to a 68-51 victory, as Pelkofer had 14 points and four
assists, Freeborn finished with 13 points and four rebounds off the bench,
Bublitz added 12 points and three steals and sophomore forward/center Zack
Goedeke chipped in with 11 points and three assists.
Meanwhile, La Crosse won at home over River Falls 66-54
Wednesday night to leave both teams tied atop the WIAC standings at 5-2,
followed by Eau Claire (4-3), Oshkosh (4-3), Platteville (4-3), UWSP (3-4),
Whitewater (3-4) and Stout (0-7).
The Pointers will start the second half of the WIAC schedule
on the road Saturday at Oshkosh,
which lost 67-50 at UW-Eau Claire (11-7, 4-3) Wednesday night.
Oshkosh rallied late in the second half to win at UWSP 64-59
Jan. 16, and is led this season by 6-1 senior point guard Alex Olson (12.9
points, 2.5 assists per game), 6-1 sophomore guard Charlie Noone (11.8 points,
42.3 percent on three-pointers) and 6-1 freshman guard Ben Boots (11.5 points,
46.8 percent on three-pointers).
“They’re very dangerous on their home court, where they’re
comfortable,” said Semling. “They play fast and they shoot quickly.
“With three very quick guards that can all shoot it, they
come at you fast, and they keep coming at you for 40 minutes,” he said.
UWSP will be back home next Wednesday to face Whitewater,
which beat the Pointers 69-63 at home Jan. 9.
Whitewater followed losses in four of its next five games,
as it lost at home 78-75 in overtime to UW-Platteville (10-8, 4-3) Wednesday
night, to drop to 5-5 at home.
Whitewater is led this season by 6-5 senior forward Trinson
White (15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds), 6-3 senior guard Haki Stampley (15.8 points,
5.6 rebounds), 6-6 junior forward Cole Van Schyndel (14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds)
and 6-1 freshman point guard Andre Brown (8.5 points, 3.3 assists).
“There were five or six seniors on that team (last year),
four starters, and then a bunch of other guys who just didn’t come back, so the
entire roster pretty much changed over,” said Semling. “In their Top 10 guys,
there’s just two guys (back), and it takes time for them to learn each other
and roles and getting used to playing with each other.
“But Whitewater still is a very, very dangerous team, and
they do have good, quick guards, they’ve got a tough inside game,” he said.
“And when we play Whitewater, records and who’s playing well and who’s not
playing well, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s a fierce rivalry, they want to
beat us and we want to beat them.”