Men can’t catch up

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The men’s basketball team started cold on a chilly Saturday night at Whitewater and didn’t warm up until the Warhawks had established an insurmountable lead.

Eau Claire lost to UW-Whitewater 71-58.

The Warhawks scored the first 11 points of the game, a lead they never relinquished. Eau Claire hit 16 percent from the field in the first half (4 of 25).

“The first half was just a sweep,” senior Sherm Carstensen said. “We need to start faster, shoot quick and get a jump early.

“When you’re down 19 points in the first half it’s hard to come back,” he said.

Whitewater took a 37-17 lead into the break. The ’Golds fought back in the second half, hitting 55 percent and outscoring the Warhawks, 41-35.

Sophomore Andy Witte and Carstensen keyed the Blugolds turnaround with 15 and 13 points in the final 20 minutes, finishing with team highs of 19 and 15 points.

Sophomore Jason Larson, who contributed seven in each half, totaled 14.

Aubrey Lewis-Byers, a First Team All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection last season as a freshman, keyed the Whitewater offense with 24 points, hitting 10 of 15 from the field.

Whitewater shot 51 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers. Eau Claire committed 13 turnovers.

The victory gave Whitewater its first sweep of the season series with the Blugolds since 1996-1997.

The loss drops Eau Claire into a four-way tie for third in the WIAC.

The Warhawks’ 6-3 WIAC record places Whitewater in a tie for first with UW-River Falls.

The Blugolds will host UW-Superior at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Zorn Arena.

Eau Claire is 11-6 for the season while Superior is 12-4. Both teams have a 5-4 WIAC record, one game behind the conference leader.

The result of this game was quite different from the result earlier this season when Eau Claire triumphed over the Yellowjackets at Superior 68-64 in the final four minutes of the Dec. 6 contest.

Carstensen said the team needs to work on execution to beat Superior.

“We’ve been struggling,” he said. “We’ve been getting out-rebounded every game.”

The Blugolds need to get back on track if they want to repeat as WIAC champions.

“Four of our next seven games are at home — we just have to take care of business,” coach Terry Gibbons said.

“We’re definitely going for a conference championship,” Carstensen said. “Our goals are still up there — they haven’t changed.”

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