Second half struggles lead to loss for men’s basketball
A silence fell over the Zorn Arena crowd Tuesday as UW-Oshkosh guard Andy Fernholz’s 3-pointer with 28 seconds to play gave the Titans an eight-point lead.
On the floor, the UW-Eau Claire players trudged back to their bench dejected, realizing they were about to lose another close WIAC game.
After taking a three-point lead into halftime, the Blugolds (10-13, 4-10 WIAC) scored only 14 points in the second half, on their way to their fourth straight loss, a 57-47 setback against the Titans (13-9, 7-6).
The smallish crowd of about 350 had a lot to cheer about in the first half, as a layup by junior guard Dan Archambault at the buzzer gave the Blugolds a 33-30 halftime lead after a smoothly played 20 minutes.
In the second half, though, the crowd started to get restless as play got more physical. Eau Claire had trouble responding to the rougher play, shooting 4-for-25 from the field in the second half, all the while getting frustrated at the apparent lack of calls.
UW-Stevens Point, 5:00 p.m. Saturday, at Zorn Arena
Blugolds coach Terry Gibbons was the most vocal about the calls during the game and said after the game that he wasn’t happy with how physical things got.
“It was really one of those games where you needed to get to the free-throw line to do your scoring,” Gibbons said, “and we just didn’t get to the free throw line.”
With 10 minutes to play in the second half, Eau Claire had been called for seven second-half fouls to Oshkosh’s two. By the end of the half, that gap had narrowed to 11-8. Oshkosh went 10-for-12 from the line in the second half, while the Blugolds went six-for-eight.
It wasn’t just the fouls that were called, but the apparent fouls that were not called that had the Eau Claire coaches upset.
Gibbons wanted several offensive fouls on the Titans that weren’t called, and on one occasion had to be restrained by his assistants to avoid getting a technical foul.
Despite the physical play, the Blugolds were able to stick with the Titans in the second half, pulling within one on a driving layup by junior Casey Drake with 5:48 to play. However, the Titans outscored Eau Claire 11-2 during the rest of the game.
Archambault led the Blugolds with 18 points, but only got five of those points in the second half. Drake added 12 but only scored two after the break.
Fernholz led Oshkosh with 12 points, while leading scorer Jim Capelle added 11. Kerry Gibson, Oshkosh’s 7-foot-1 freshman, added six blocks and seven rebounds.
But in the end, it was the Blugolds’ cold shooting that gave them their 10th WIAC loss for only the third time in the last 40 seasons.
“They played good defense, but we definitely could have hit some more shots,” Drake said about the second half. “We’re obviously not happy about this, but we got to get focused and come back ready to play on Saturday.”