Blugolds soar over the Eagles
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April 25, 2017
UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball dominates UW-La Crosse
The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team racked up their seventh conference win on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Zorn Arena against UW-La Crosse.
The Blugolds beat the Eagles by a final score of 88-69, which keeps them tied for third with UW-Oshkosh in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). Their record is now 7-5 in the WIAC and 17-6 overall.
Eau Claire started the game off strong; senior forward Jared Schneidermann scored eight of the team’s 21 points halfway into the first half while senior guard, Jack Martinek, followed with six points and two steals. This helped secure the Blugolds with an eleven point lead that would carry them through the first period.
Schneidermann said home games are a huge advantage for the team and their drive was largely fueled by the overwhelming support of fans.
“Zorn has been packed these past couple games,” Schneidermann said. “We feed off the energy.”
However, their lead began to wane when LaCrosse’s Terek Nesheim hit a three-pointer to end the first half with a score of 45-36. After that, the Eagles went on a scoring run; they closed the gap to only two points during the first six minutes of the second period, bringing the score up to 53-51.
A three from the top of the key by Eau Claire’s Dan Becken turned things back around. They brought their lead back into the double digits and held it there for the rest of the game, ending with a final score of 88-69.
The Blugolds were 20 for 53 from the floor (60.4 percent), 11 for 18 from beyond the arc (61.1 percent), and 13 for 19 at the free throw line (68.4 percent). The Eagles trailed in these areas with 49.2, 38.5 and 54.5 percent, respectively.
Currently, Eau Claire has the highest field goal percentage not only in the WIAC but also in the entire NCAA — consisting of 416 teams —for Division Three, with a whopping record of 52 percent.
Eau Claire’s defense was impeccably strong on Saturday; the Blugolds had nine steals and forced 11 turnovers. Head Coach Matt Siverling said having good defense early on allowed the team to ride that momentum throughout the rest of the game.
“(The turnovers) got us out in transition early in the game, and whenever that happens it gets the crowd into it and gets our guys pretty excited,” Siverling said. “Things just fell into place after that.”
Junior guard Chris Duff led all scores with 21 points that night, followed closely by Schneidermann with 18 points and five rebounds.
Duff said the team’s success against the Eagles was in large part due to their frequent passes.
“Our ball movement was really good today, no one was hanging onto the ball,” Duff said. “It helped us kick out for threes and drive to the hoop. Inside (the paint), we did a really good job.”
The team hopes to continue their energy and success in the upcoming games against the top two seeds in the conference — UW-River Falls and UW-Whitewater.
The Blugolds will face the current conference champion, UW-River Falls, for Senior Night on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Zorn Arena.