There was some late-season drama, but UW-L is back on top of the WIAC conference for the first time since 1965.
The Eagles beat UW-Stevens Point 55-53 Saturday at Mitchell Hall to clinch the title, its 12th in program history.
"I haven't cried in a while as a grown man. To be able to bring it back here in 51 years, and to do it with the guys on this team. Talk about a tight knit circle," senior Jared Staege said. "I really couldn't have asked for a better way to go out my senior year."
"With those preseason polls putting us seventh place, it was kind of like we had no hope right off the bat, but this team believed, this team fought," senior Lucas Collom said. "It was just an incredible moment for every single one of us."
UW-L is the top seed in the upcoming WIAC Tournament and will host a semifinal matchup on Friday at Mitchell Hall. #4 seed UW-River Falls will host #5 seed UW-Whitewater and #3 seed UW-Eau Claire will host #6 seed UW-Stevens Point in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. UW-Oshkosh earned the #2 seed and will also host a semifinal game on Friday.
The Pointers opened Saturday night's contest on a 6-0 run, but UW-L responded with a 9-0 run of its own to lead 9-6 with 15:44 to play in the first half. The Eagles eventually led 37-22 at halftime, and led by as many as 17 early in the second half.
But Point went on another run to close within two with 2:52 left as the Eagles struggled to shoot, and a pair of Sean McGann free throws tied the game at 51-51 with 1:56 to play.
Devin Yurk's three-point play with 1:36 remaining gave UW-L a 54-51 lead, and a Ryan Kruser free throw provided the game's final point.
The Pointers missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer, prompting a celebration along the Eagles bench.