First-half deficit not enough to stop Eau Claire
Posted at 7:20 p.m. 2/7/10
The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team rebounded from a slow first half to come away with a 79-70 win on Saturday at home against UW-Platteville.
Although the team struggled for most of the first half, they were able to make the proper adjustments during the break, and eventually pulled away in the second period with a dominating performance from Senior Geoff Probst.
Coach Terry Gibbons said although he was displeased for most of the opening half, he was satisfied with the way things turned out.
“Platteville is a very good basketball team and they hit some big shots,” Gibbons said. “I thought in the second half our guys really turned it up a notch defensively and played a little bit smarter offensively.”
The Blugolds opened the game with a quick steal on Platteville’s initial possession and were able to drive down the court for the first basket of the game and a 2-0 lead.
Platteville quickly responded with a basket of its own, and started to gain control of the game. At just under the 16-minute mark in the half, the Pioneers had a 10-4 lead and the Blugold offense was struggling.
Probst then struck with his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer, but it was quickly answered with a pair of buckets from Platteville. Until the 10-minute mark the Blugolds continued to struggle as a team offensively, and trailed by eight points for the majority of that time.
Probst then came back with a pair of successful baskets and seemed to be single-handily preventing the Pioneers from pulling away.
“I had a couple of shots that started to fall and I just wanted to ride that into halftime to keep the game close,” Probst said.
As the half winded down, Eau Claire was never able to get within two points and trailed by six at the break.
Gibbons was displeased with how his team performed and thought they were fortunate to still be in the game at that point.
“We talked about being more patient offensively to get the shots that we wanted,” Gibbons said.
As the second half began, it was clear things were going to be different. Before the 18-minute mark hit, the Blugolds had already tied the game for the first time since the opening tip.
With a one point lead and less than 15 minutes to go, Probst hit another three, putting the team up by four, and they didn’t trail for the remainder of the game.
Probst continued to make shots whenever the team needed it, and Gibbons credited him with starting the turn around in the second half.
“Geoff (Probst) was huge, you expect that this time of year and you want your seniors to be able to step up,” Gibbons said. “It’s a great example for the underclassmen to see that.”
Eau Claire cruised to a victory the rest of the way and never let their lead fall to less than five points.
Probst finished with a game-high 29 points and also added 10 rebounds to pick up the double-double. In the process, he reached 1,000 points for his career, something he was honored to achieve.
“It’s great, it was a milestone that I had a goal for,” Probst said. “It was nice to get it at home, especially with the win.”
Gibbons said he was very pleased to witness Probst reach that mark.
“I was ecstatic for him. There isn’t any ballplayer more deserving than him to get his thousandth point as a Blugold,” Gibbons said. “He’ll always be one of my all-time favorite players.”
Eau Claire is now 14-7 overall and tied for fourth in the conference with a 6-6 record, just a half game out of third place.
Up next for the Blugolds is a home game against conference front-runner UW-Stevens Point on Wednesday.
Although his team just got back into the conference mix, Gibbons said they still have a lot of work ahead of them.
“We just have got to take care of the next game,” Gibbons said. “We’re just fighting for our survival; this is the toughest conference in the nation.”