UWSP men’s basketball falls to Whitewater, hosts River Falls Saturday
With a chance to work its way back into the Wisconsin
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) race, the University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s basketball team fell at home to
UW-Whitewater Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Following a 55-42 win at UW-Oshkosh (12-8, 5-4) Saturday,
Jan. 30, the Pointers (11-9, 4-5) shot 27.1 percent from the field in a 72-51
loss to Whitewater (13-7, 4-5) at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse
Wednesday, Feb. 3.
UWSP will host UW-River Falls (12-8, 6-3) for Alumni Day at
7 p.m. Saturday Feb. 6, and then travel to play at UW-Stout (4-15, 0-9) at 7
p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10.
“We can’t put our heads down and say, ‘OK, well that’s it,’
because you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said UWSP men’s basketball
head coach Bob Semling of the WIAC race. “We have to play every game, and we
have to have the same preparation, the same focus for each game from here on
out, right into the WIAC Tournament.
“And if we do that, I feel better about our opportunities,
obviously than what I did a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
After back-to-back wins at home over UW-La Crosse and
UW-Stout to close out the first half of the conference season at 3-4, the
Pointers opened the second half of the schedule Saturday at UW-Oshkosh, who
they lost to 64-59 at home Jan. 16.
UWSP got out to a 6-0 lead with 14:25 to go in the first
half after Oshkosh missed its first seven shots from the field, but the game remained
tight throughout the half, as senior guard Stephen Pelkofer hit a jumper with
57 seconds left in the first half to give the Pointers a 21-20 lead at
UWSP extended its lead to 30-24 with to play, but Oshkosh came back to take a 34-33 lead with remaining.
“We were kind of dictating and in control, but then they had
a run on us,” said Semling. “They were really aggressive, bringing the ball to
the basket, the game got very physical down low, and we didn’t adjust quick
“After a timeout, Ethan Bublitz got a steal and a layup and
then Sean McGann came down and got an offensive rebound and two free throws,
and it kind of matched what they had been doing to us,” he said. “It lifted us,
and it changed the game.”
Bublitz’s layup and McGann’s free throws were the start of a
22-5 run, as Oshkosh
missed 11 consecutive shots and went 1-for-14 from the field during that
stretch, which put the Pointers ahead 55-39 with left.
UWSP went on to a 55-42 victory, as Pelkofer finished with
23 points and six rebounds; sophomore forward/center Zack Goedeke had 11
points, eight rebounds and three blocks; and freshman guard Ethan Bublitz added
10 points for UWSP, while Oshkosh was held to a season low in points (42),
field-goal percentage (27.1 percent) and three-point percentage (15 percent).
“I was so proud of our guys,” said Semling. “We worked so
hard for that, we’ve been gearing up and working hard and trying to make the changes
and improve in certain areas that would allow us to be able to do that.”
The Pointers were back home Wednesday night against rival
Whitewater, which had lost five of its previous six games after it had started
the season 11-2 and was ranked 14th in the nation.
The game was close throughout the first half, as UWSP went
into halftime down 26-23, despite shooting 29.6 percent from the floor
(8-of-27), with Whitewater at 52.6 percent (10-of-19).
The Pointers were within striking distance throughout the first
part of the second half and trailed 46-40 with 9:30 to go, but Whitewater
knocked down three consecutive three-pointers and went 6-of-6 from the field
during a 21-6 run that opened a 67-46 lead with 4:06 left, and went on to a
McGann went 4-of-14 from the field and had 20 points and
five rebounds and Pelkofer was 4-of-13 and added 12 points for UWSP, which shot
27.1 percent (13-of-48) in the loss, compared to 56.5 percent (26-of-46) for
The Pointers will be at home again Saturday night for Alumni
Day, as former UWSP men’s basketball players will compete in an alumni game at at Bennett Court at Quandt
Fieldhouse, and be introduced at halftime when the Pointers take on River Falls
at 7 p.m.
River Falls entered Wednesday in a first-place tie atop the
WIAC, but was beat 78-56 at home by UW-Eau Claire (13-7, 6-3), while UW-La
Crosse (13-7, 7-2) won 74-67 at home over Stout to take sole possession of
first place in the conference.
River Falls won at home 56-48 over UWSP Jan. 20, and is led
this season by 6-6 senior forward Jon Christensen (WIAC-best 18.5 points per
game, second in WIAC with 7.9 rebounds per game and 45.7 percent on
three-pointers), 6-5 junior forward Garret Pierson (14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds),
6-0 sophomore guard CJ Lewis (8.9 points), 6-5 senior forward Jack Herum (6.7
points, 5.5 rebounds) and 5-9 junior point guard Grant Erickson (6.5 points,
“We’ve always said that Whitewater’s that team that wants to
pound you inside and be very physical and try to score in the paint and try to
score at the rim,” said Semling. “And River Falls
is playing that way this year.
“Pierson is 6-5, 230 pounds and he’s got the ability to play
extremely physical and turn it into football, and Christensen is 6-7 and 230,
and he’s more of a finesse player, but he also can be physical in the post with
holding his position and shoving guys and then crunching people on the glass,”
he said. “Erickson was hurt at the beginning of the year, but he’s back full
strength and he’s fast and aggressive and really a good passer and runs their
The Pointers will then hit the road to face Stout, which is
led this season by 6-1 sophomore point guard John Keefe (12.3 points, 4.1
assists), 6-2 sophomore guard Jalen Patterson (8.3points), 6-2 sophomore guard
and former Pacelli High School standout Isaac Elliott (7 points) and 6-5
sophomore forward John Lahti (5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds).
“Everybody going in there knows what they’re playing for is
trying to win a game in the league and trying to win a game at home,” said
Semling, whose team beat Stout 68-51 at home Jan. 27. “So we are very focused
when we go over there, to not be that team, that we can’t let them hang around
and stay in the game.
“We must find a way to separate from them, because you don’t
want to go down the stretch against them on their home floor,” he said.
As for Alumni Day this Saturday, Semling said it means a lot
to the UWSP men’s basketball program when former players return for the event,
or for the team’s annual golf outing each summer.
“I talk all the time to our players that, ‘when we recruit
you, we recruit you to be a player and a student-athlete at UWSP, but more
important than that, to be a member of our program for life,’” said Semling.
“That’s a lifelong honor that should not be taken
lightly, to be part of the history and tradition of this program. You think of
the great players and the coaches and all those outstanding teams that have
gone before us, and then you get a chance to be a part of that, and you get a
chance to be a part of it for a lifetime.
“‘Those connections that you have with your teammates and
then the roots of this program run so deep, that you want to continue to be a
part of it,” he said. “You want your family and your kids to be able to see
where you played and hear some of those stories and meet some of those
teammates of yours.’
“And that’s really important to this program,” he said.
“It’s a reason why this program has thrived and why we are the most consistent
program in the WIAC for four decades. It’s because of our players and their
families and their commitment to this program, the sacrifices that they made as
players, and then the fact that they stay connected.”