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Platteville forces Whitewater into four-way tie for first

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Tim Wester/Special to the Gazette
January 24, 2008
— You could almost hear the collective groan of the UW-Whitewater players every time they saw Jeff Skemp’s enormous 6-foot, 10-inch, 260-pound frame lumber onto the Kachel Gym floor for UW-Platteville.

The Warhawks, already short on big men with 6-4 senior forward Rob Perry out with a broken foot, weren’t exactly excited to bang bodies with the Pioneers’ chiseled center.


Whitewater’s groans promptly turned into a 40-minute nightmare.


Skemp unloaded a season-high 30 points on the undermanned Warhawks and led the visiting Pioneers to a hard-fought, 79-73 victory in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball here Wednesday night.


Skemp’s powerful effort catapulted Platteville (12-4) into a four-way tie with Whitewater, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Stevens Point for first place. All are 6-2 in the WIAC.


“A win in the WIAC, whether home or away, is always important,” Platteville coach Paul Combs said. “But to get a win at Whitewater is a huge step in the right direction.”


Meanwhile, Whitewater (13-3) is just trying to avoid moving in the wrong direction after falling short against Platteville.


“It clearly wasn’t our best effort, and they took us out of things. So give them credit,” Whitewater coach Pat Miller said. “Obviously, we have to learn from this.”


The first lesson Miller’s team needs to learn is how to control Skemp. After Whitewater opened up a 47-44 lead early in the second half, Skemp converted three easy layups during a 15-4 run that pushed the Pioneers ahead 59-51.


“We just really pounded the ball,” Skemp said. “Our focus now is to try to get position so I can get the ball and not think about making a move with the double team coming down. So things just happed to go our way.”


Things appeared to be turning Whitewater’s way late in the game. Janesville Craig graduate Josh King’s layup cut the Platteville lead to 63-61 with five minutes left.


But the Pioneers remained on top by sinking 16 of their last 18 free throws.


“I was really pleased with our effort from the line,” Combs said. “Anytime you go on the road and make 22 of 25 free throws is good.”


Despite the clutch Platteville free-throw shooting, Whitewater finally earned a chance to tie the game with 30 seconds left.


With the Pioneers clinging to a 72-69 lead, Warhawk guard Kevin Koski drove down the lane and kicked the ball out to Myles McKay, who missed an open three-pointer.


Josh Langenfeld cleared the rebound and forced Whitewater to foul. Platteville then sank six more free throws to finish off the Warhawks.


“As poorly as we played, we still had a chance to win, which is a positive,” Miller said.


Whitewater didn’t play poorly at the beginning of the game, opening a 20-15 lead midway through the first half. Platteville quickly responded with a 13-4 run that led to a 37-33 halftime advantage.


McKay paced the Warhawks with 19 points, while Kori Vernon scored 15, and King added 12.


PLATTEVILLE 79, WHITEWATER 73


Platteville (79)—Hanson 4-13 2-2 12, Langenfeld 3-6 5-6 11, Lohoff 1-3 4-5 6, Wall 1-1 0-1 2, Skemp 11-15 8-8 30, Shaw 2-4 2-2 8, Richter 1-1 1-1 3, Allen 2-5 0-0 5, Tetschlag 1-1 0-0 2, Henney 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-9 22-25 79.


Whitewater (73)—Goodwin 2-7 4-7 9, McKay 6-8 6-7 19, Koski 2-4 1-2 5, King 6-8 0-1 12, Vernon 5-6 5-7 15, Hunter 0-2 0-0 0, Mitchell 4-5 1-2 9, Brezovar 0-1 0-0 0, Kolinske 1-1 2-2 4. Totals: 26-42, 19-28 73.


UW-Platteville 37 42—79


UW-Whitewater 33 40—73


Three-point goals—Platteville 5-16 (Hanson 2-8, Langenfeld 0-2, Lohoff 0-1, Shaw 2-3, Allen 1-2), Whitewater 2-9 (Goodwin 1-4, McKay 1-2 King 0-1, Mitchell 0-1, Brezovar 0-1). Rebounds—Platteville 23 (Skemp 6, Hanson 5), Whitewater 19 (McKay 8, Vernon 5). Assists—Platteville 10 (Allen 3), Whitewater 10 (Koski 5). Total fouls—Platteville 21, Whitewater 21. Fouled out—Goodwin.





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