PLATTEVILLE, Wis. - The UW-Platteville men's basketball team defeated UW-Stevens Point 70-57 Saturday night in the WIAC Men's Basketball Championship (presented by Culver's) to win the tournament for the second time in program history and earn an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
Saturday's victory marks the first time the Pioneers have won the WIAC Championship tournament since 1999, which ended with a 90-88 victory in overtime against the UW-Stout Blue Devils. The 1998-99 season coincidentally was the same year the Pioneers went on to win the NCAA Div. III title and secured the program's fourth national title.
The Pioneers trailed 55-54 when the Pointers' Drew Fredrickson's made a 3-pointer with 4:25 remaining in the game. Senior Robert Duax responded by scoring nine unanswered points to give the Pioneers a 63-55 lead. The Pioneers finished the game on a 16-2 run to seal the victory. Duax led the Pioneers with 20 points, nine of which were scored in 2:33 during the late run.
Senior Clay Gerds scored 16 points and didn't miss a shot all night. Gerds shot 6-of-6 from the field, 2-of-2 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Sophomore Quentin Shields stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points on 62.5 percent (5-of-8) shooting from the field. Shields pulled in eight rebounds and had four assists.
As a team the Pioneers outshot the Pointers in all shooting categories and shot 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field, 37.5 percent (9-of-24) from 3-point range and 84.6 percent (11-of-13) from the free throw line.
Junior Ethan Bublitz and senior Drew Fredrickson led the Pointers' charge. Bublitz had a team high with 15 points and five rebounds and Fredrickson tallied 14 points and five rebounds of his own.
With the win, the Pioneers earn the WIAC's automatic NCAA bid and are awaiting the NCAA Selection Show on Monday morning to learn their first round opponent.