The last time UW-Platteville played a home NCAA Division III playoff game, Bo Ryan was the coach, not the name on the court. The result, however, for the Pioneers was the same in 2018 as it was in its 1999 national championship run.
The Pioneers pulled away from Monmouth, Illinois 91-76 in the first round game Friday on Bo Ryan Court in Williams Fieldhouse. With the win, the Pioneers not only advanced to Saturday's second round, but they improved their all-time NCAA III playoff record to 32-6, the best record in D3 history.
The Pioneers will play host to St. Olaf Saturday at 7 p.m. The Oles defeated Sul Ross State 88-75 in Friday's first contest.
The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season champions burst out to a 12-2 lead against the Midwest Conference champions with seven points by Robert Duax and five by Clay Gerds. The Scots closed within 20-18 and hung tight for the rest of the first half, which ended with the hosts ahead 39-36. Monmouth took the lead at 43-42 on a Justin Aluyah three-point play and stretched it to 48-42 on an Aluyah three-point shot. The Pioneers tied the game at 53 on a Matt Oestreich three-pointer with 12:38 remaining and re-took the lead at 55-53 on two Quentin Shields' free throws.
Leading 69-65, the Pioneers scored 10 straight points. Oestreich made a three-point basket, a layup and a jump shot, and Carter Voelker finished the run with the field goal for a 78-65 lead with 3:26 left.
UW-Platteville, ranked eighth in the D3hoops.com poll, improved to 23-4, while Monmouth, making its first national playoff appearance since 1990, finished its season at 20-8. The Scots tied their school record for wins in a season.
Five Pioneers scored in double figures, led by WIAC MVP Duax with 20, Oestreich 19, Gerds 16, Shields 15 and Jake Showalter with 11.
MWC Player of the Year Will Jones scored 24, Aluya had 19, and Stephon Bobbitt and D.J. Swift each had 10 for the Scots, who had their nine-game winning streak snapped.