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Nationally Ranked Pioneers Storm Back To Defeat Titans

Adam Fravert scored 20 points with eight rebounds and three blocked shots against the Pioneers.
Adam Fravert scored 20 points with eight rebounds and three blocked shots against the Pioneers.

The nationally ranked UW-Platteville men's basketball team reclaimed a lead with 18 unanswered points spanning both halves and held on for a 74-70 win over defending NCAA Division III and WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh on Wednesday (Jan. 8) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Platteville (12-1, 2-0 WIAC), ranked ninth in the country by, faced a 43-27 deficit with 99 seconds to play in the first half before pulling within 43-33 at intermission and taking a 45-43 lead with 14:45 remaining in the second period. The Pioneers then took the lead for good at 54-52 with 9:49 left and extended their advantage to 64-56 with five minutes to play.

UW-Oshkosh (7-6, 1-1 WIAC) cut its deficit to 65-63 with 2:50 to go, but the Pioneers hit a 3-pointer 21 seconds later and never allowed the Titans to have the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead the rest of the way in a matchup of the past two WIAC champions. UW-Platteville claimed the league title in 2018 while UW-Oshkosh won last year's conference championship by three games with a 13-1 record.

The Titans, who had their 10-game WIAC regular season home winning streak snapped, shot 27.3 percent (9-33) from the field during the second half, including 14.3 percent (2-14) from 3-point range.

UW-Platteville's Carter Voelker led all players with 21 points and five assists to go along with seven rebounds. He scored 17 of his points during the second half.

Drew Gunnink added 18 points for the Pioneers, who also received 10 points from Quentin Shields and nine off the bench from Blake McCann. Gunnink shot 7 of 9 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc.

UW-Platteville finished the game shooting 43.5 percent (27-62) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-19) from beyond the arc and 78.6 percent (11-14) at the free throw line. The Pioneers owned advantages of 12-6 in assists, 3-8 in turnovers and 5-2 in steals.

UW-Oshkosh went 24 of 66 (.364) from the floor, 7-for-31 (.226) from 3-point range and 15 of 17 (.882) at the foul line. The Titans, who have outrebounded 14 of their last 15 opponents, held edges of 46-35 in rebounds and 6-3 in blocks.

Adam Fravert paced UW-Oshkosh with 20 points while Will Mahoney and Eddie Muench had 13 and 11, respectively, and Eric Peterson nine.

Fravert, who had three blocks to increase his WIAC-leading total to 24, added eight rebounds. Jack Flynn pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, and dished out a team-best two assists for the Titans.

UW-Platteville entered Wednesday ranked among the top 15 teams in the country in several categories, including sixth in both average scoring margin (+18.7) and 3-point percentage defense (.270), 10th in field goal percentage defense (.381), 13th in scoring defense (62.1) and 15th in turnovers per game (10.9). No team has scored more than 74 points against the Pioneers this season.

UW-Oshkosh, which had scored at least 79 points each of its previous nine contests, was the conference leader in scoring at 83.9 points per game and ranked ninth nationally with 45 rebounds per contest.

The Titans took a 10-8 lead following a Peterson 3-pointer with 16:07 to play in the first half and maintained an advantage until the 16:07 mark of the second period amid the Pioneers' 18-0 run. Clinging to a 20-19 lead, the Titans scored eight straight points after Muench and David Vlotho hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

UW-Oshkosh later went on an 11-2 run to build its largest lead of 16 points at 43-27 on a pair of Vlotho free throws with 1:39 remaining in the first half.

UW-Platteville began its string of 18 unanswered points with four free throws before McCann capped the first half with a dunk as time expired. The Pioneers continued their run with the first 12 points of the second half, including seven from Voelker. Voelker's 3-pointer knotted the score at 43 and his layup culminated the run for a 45-43 UW-Platteville lead with 14:45 left.

UW-Oshkosh ended its scoreless drought of more than seven minutes when Muench drove for a layup that tied the score at 45 at the 14:24 mark. The Titans then reclaimed their last lead at 52-51 on Muench's jumper with 10:06 to go, but the Pioneers took the lead for good 17 seconds later at 54-52 following a Gunnink 3-pointer. UW-Platteville extended its lead to 64-56 on a Gunnink layup at the 5:11 mark.

A Fravert 3-pointer pulled the Titans within 65-63 with 2:50 to play. However, Gunnink, who scored 16 of his 18 points after intermission, responded with a 3-pointer of his own that increased the Pioneer lead to 68-63 with 2:29 left. Mahoney completed a three-point play that cut UW-Oshkosh's deficit to 71-68 with 94 seconds to go, but Gunnink once again answered – this time with a basket in the lane that upped UW-Platteville's advantage to 73-68 with 72 seconds remaining.

UW-Oshkosh travels to UW-Stout on Saturday (Jan. 11) for its first conference road game.