Blugold win improves conference standing to third


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Heidi Plato

The men’s basketball team dominated UW-Superior at home Wednesday night. The 79-68 victory helped the Blugolds improve their WIAC conference standing and keep their conference championship hopes alive.

The Blugolds came into the game with a 5-4 conference record. They were tied with UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Superior for third place in the conference.

“This was a must-win game for us,” said senior Todd Marks. “Winning this was a real confidence booster.”

The Blugolds’ junior Andy Witte scored first to set the pace for the team.

The game was evenly matched early on with the Blugolds scoring and Superior answering.

“We got off to a slow start,”said junior Steve Syrjala. “We realized early that we had to slow them down.”

“We switched from a man-to-man defense about halfway through the first half,” Syrjala said. “We went to a zone defense and we broke them open.”

In the first half, the combined fouls totaled 13.

“We were having a bit of a foul problem early in the game,” Syrjala said. “We had to step it up off the bench to keep the foul count down.”

Going into halftime the Blugolds were trailing the Yellowjackets 36-40.

In the first half Eau Claire made 50 percent of its field-goal attempts, while Superior completed just under 50 percent.

Syrjala led scoring for the Blugolds in the first half, contributing 12 points.

Also scoring in the first half for the Blugolds were senior Sherm Carstensen with eight points and Witte with six.

In the second half the Blugolds distanced themselves from the Yellowjackets.

The Blugolds regained the lead in the 17th minute of the third quarter and dominated Superior for the remainder of the game.

Eau Claire led by as many as 13 points in the second half of the contest.

The foul count on both sides increased in the second half. Superior was responsible for 13 fouls, while Eau Claire was called on for nine fouls.

“Our defense and offense was playing well,” Marks said. “We tried to limit Superior’s three-pointers in the second half.”

The Blugolds made six of their attempted three-point shots. Three of them were put in by Syrjala in the first half of the game.

The Yellow Jackets made 10 of their 25 three-point attempts.

“One of the guys from Superior was really hot with his three-pointers,” Marks said. “We tried to shut him down and limit the number of threes he could get off.”

Carstensen led the Blugold’s scoring with 27 points. Senior Matt Fermanich scored 15 points for the Blugolds, and sophomore Jason Larson contributed 14 points to the Blugolds’ victory.

“This was a great boost after our loss last weekend to Whitewater,” Syrjala said.

The Blugolds dropped that game 71-58 to Whitewater.

“This win should move us up in the conference,” Marks said.

“When we get on the road we need to keep our heads together and keep winning,” Syrjala said. “Hopefully we can keep moving up in the conference.”

Eau Claire will head to UW-La Crosse on Saturday for a conference match-up.

La Crosse is placed at the bottom of the WIAC standings with a record of 2-6 and with a losing record at home.

With a win at La Crosse, the Blugolds could move into a three-way tie for first place in the WIAC. UW-Whitewater and UW-River Falls are tied for first place in the WIAC.

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