Playing in one of his toughest challenges in his young collegiate career, UW-Platteville freshman Jake Manning rose to the occasion with a game-high 19 points to lead the Pioneers to a 66-63 win over UW-La Crosse in an WIAC encounter at Bo Ryan Court on Wednesday.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native made six layups and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Pioneers, who improve to 9-5 overall and 3-2 in the WIAC. The rookie was involved an attack by UW-Platteville that shared the ball for a season-high 18 assists on 23 field goals. Junior Rob Stallion handed out a steam-high four assists and sophomores Eric Gerber and Chas Cross each had three. Joining Manning in double digits was senior Brett Stangel, who added 17 points to the cause.
The Eagles (10-3, 2-2 WIAC) spread its scoring among 10 players including Luke Tweed, who had 10 points to lead UW-La Crosse. Plus, Al Chery had eight points and a game-high eight rebounds in the loss.
The two teams exchanged leads throughout the first seven-plus minutes of the game but a Stangel three pointer put the Pioneers in front by a 14-12 margin with 11:13 to play in the first 20 minutes. The 3 pointer sparked an 11-2 run by the Pioneers that put UW-Platteville ahead 25-14 with 7:25 remained in the opening half.
However, the Eagles scored 12 of the final 19 points including a 3-pointer by Jack Taylor with less than a second to go for a 32-26 halftime lead for the home team. The Pioneers came into the contest 6-1 when leading at the break but that did not faze the visitors.
After UW-La Crosse cut the deficit to three on a pair of occasions including when Tweed made a layup with 9:54 to play. The layup cut the Pioneer lead to 44-41 with 9:54 remaining. UW-Platteville scored nine of the next 11 points to stretch the lead to 53-43 with 8:00 to go.
Seven-straight points by UW-La Crosse cut the lead to three, 55-52 with 5:26 left and the game remained close down the stretch. The Eagles' managed to lower the Pioneer lead to one, 64-63, when Taylor hit a 3 pointer with 21 seconds to play.
Forced to foul, the Eagles sent Stangel to the line, who made his fifth and sixth-straight free throw of the night to extend the lead to three. A last-second 3-pointer by Taylor came up short and the Pioneers prevailed with the win.
Next, the Pioneers will look to extend its winning streak to three when they travel to UW-Superior on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 3 p.m.