Platteville hangs on to edge Warhawks in overtime
Special to the Gazette
When the game was over, UW-Platteville senior guard Charlie Lohoff had to be carted out of the building on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to receive medical attention for his severely cramping body.
That’s how much exertion it took for the Pioneers to get past UW-Whitewater on Thursday night in the semifinals of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament.
The Warhawks overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to force overtime, but the Pioneers survived, 77-74, in a captivating game at Williams Fieldhouse.
“It’s a shame somebody had to lose,” Platteville coach Paul Combs said. “Credit Whitewater—they gave as much effort as any team we’ve faced all season and made us earn every play, every possession.”
Lohoff scored 19 points and handed out six assists as Platteville (22-4), ranked No. 5 by D3hoops.com, advanced to play at No. 6 UW-Stevens Point on Saturday for the tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
No. 7 Whitewater dipped to 22-5, confident that its résumé is strong enough to gain an at-large entry to the NCAA tournament.
“If we did not get into the NCAA tournament, I would probably resign and coach in the NAIA,” Warhawks coach Pat Miller said. “We’re 22-5 with our losses being in Platteville’s place, Stevens Point, Oshkosh, who’s 13th, I think, in the Massey Index, and at Mary Hardin-Baylor, who’s won 11 games in a row. I think we’d be relatively safe.”
No Platteville lead was safe Thursday night.
Platteville started with a 22-7 spurt to open the game and was up 46-29 four minutes into the second half. The Pioneers still led by 14 with about 11 minutes to go when Whitewater—with leading scorer Myles McKay freed from foul trouble—chipped away.
Junior center Dustin Mitchell put back a McKay miss to cut pull Whitewater within 58-56 with 1:46 left and sank two free throws with four seconds left to send the game to overtime after Pioneers star Jeff Skemp’s three-pointer and a tip-in try missed.
“I hit a lot of free throws tonight, and my stroke felt good,” said Mitchell, who scored a game-high 21 points. “I was confident they were going in.”
Platteville was clinging to a 62-61 lead with 2 1/2 minutes left in OT when Curt Hanson—1-for-11 to that point, including 0-for-6 from three-point range—buried a shot-clock-buzzer-beating try from a few feet beyond the arc.
Whitewater played catch-up from there, with the Pioneers making all of their 12 free throws, eight by Mike Shaw.
The Warhawks had a chance to push the game to a second extra session after McKay made a pair of free throws to make it 77-74 and Platteville threw the ball away with four seconds left.
After a timeout, UW-Whitewater inbounded near half-court and got the ball to McKay in the corner for a fadeaway three-point attempt that fell well short as time expired.
“We just had to bring it out of us,” McKay, a senior guard, said of the comeback. “The first half, that wasn’t us. That wasn’t Warhawk basketball. We went out there and gave it 99 percent. A hundred would’ve been if we got the win tonight.”
McKay finished with 18 points, despite playing just four first-half minutes and going scoreless until midway through the second half. Tyson Kingsby added 13 points.
Skemp added 12 points, Eric Wall 12 big ones off the bench and Shaw 11 for the Pioneers.
The Warhawks, who opened the tournament Tuesday by holding off visiting UW-River Falls, 86-81, took solace in their second-half rally.
“We really wanted the conference tournament championship, but we want to take this momentum into the tournament,” Mitchell said. “I feel like we really found ourselves tonight as a team in that second half, and we just want to carry it to the NCAA tournament.”
PLATTEVILLE 77, WHITEWATER 74 (OT)
Whitewater (74)—Goodwin 2-8 1-2 5, Kingsby 4-10 3-4 13, McKay 5-13 6-6 18, Vernon 4-6 0-0 8, Kolinske 3-4 1-2 7, Negri 0-1 0-0 0, Mitchell 6-7 7-8 21, Vines 0-2 2-2 2. Totals: 24-51 20-24 74.
Platteville (77)—Hanson 2-12 1-2 6, Allen 1-2 2-2 5, Lohoff 7-12 2-5 19, Tetschlag 4-4 0-0 8, Skemp 4-9 4-4 12, Shaw 1-6 8-8 11, Richter 1-4 2-2 4, Wall 4-6 4-6 12. Totals: 24-55 23-29 77.
UW-Whitewater 27 31 16—74
UW-Platteville 38 20 19—77
Three-point goals—Whitewater 6-20 (Kingsby 2-5, McKay 2-8, Mitchell 2-2, Goodwin 0-3, Kolinske 0-1, Negri 0-1), Platteville 6-21 (Lohoff 3-6, Hanson 1-7, Allen 1-2, Shaw 1-3, Skemp 0-1, Richter 0-2). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Whitewater 31 (Kingsby 7), Platteville 30 (Allen, Skemp 6). Assists—Whitewater 10 (Kingsby 3), Platteville 17 (Lohoff 6). Total fouls—Whitewater 22, Platteville 19. Attendance—1,229.