The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Men down River Falls while women fall to Falcons

Both UW-Eau Claire basketball teams closed out their regular seasons Saturday at River Falls, but only one team returned home with a victory.

The women kicked off the double header with a 63-47 loss to River Falls, dropping their record to 15-10 overall and 8-8 in the WIAC. The Blugolds are the No. 5 seed in the WIAC conference tournament.

The men avenged their 42-41 loss on Jan. 18 at Zorn Arena by downing the Falcons 75-62, leaving them with the No. 6 seed in the WIAC conference tournament with a 6-10 conference record and 13-12 overall.

It was the men who had the hot hands on the night, shooting 53.7 percent in their victory while the women struggled mightily from the field converting on just 28.8 percent of their field goals.

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“The guy’s just had the look that they weren’t going to get beat,” coach Terry Gibbons said. “It was our defense down the stretch that made the difference for us.”

Blugolds 75
UW-River Falls 62
Up next:
UW-Oshkosh, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, at Oshkosh

Eau Claire’s men’s team jumped out to an early 12-4 lead, but the Falcons proved adept at playing from behind as they repeatedly clawed their way back into the game.

The Falcons grabbed the lead at the end of the first half with a 14-4 run to send the ‘Golds into the locker room trailing 29-27.

Senior guard Casey Drake buried a jumper on the Blugolds opening possession of the second half, tying the game at 29, but with 11:49 left the ‘Golds found themselves down 49-47.

The Blugolds did some clawing of their own to get back into the game, and with 7:50 remaining, Eau Claire tied the game up for the seventh and final time at 55-55.

“Will hit a big three to get us rolling and our defense really stepped it up,” Gibbons said.

Sparked by a pair of layups from senior Will Jefferson, the Blugolds used a 9-0 run to pull away from the Falcons for good in the final seven minutes.

Drake poured in a game high 22 points followed by back-court mate senior Dan Archambault with 21. Jefferson also chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.

The Blugolds are scheduled to take on third seed UW-Oshkosh on Tuesday at Oshkosh in the first round of the WIAC tournament.

Eau Claire and Oshkosh split its games this year, both winning at home.

“I really don’t think home court advantage is going to matter, especially in the tournament,” Gibbons said. “We match up well with Oshkosh and I’m confident that we can go down there and get a win.”

Women fall 63-47 to River Falls

While the men’s game saw seven ties and five lead changes, the women’s game didn’t see either one.

“When you play on the road it’s important to knock down your open shots,” coach Tonja Englund said. “We had enough open shots we just shot really poorly.”

It took just 11 seconds for the Falcons to take the lead on a three pointer at 3-0, a lead River Falls wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the night.

The ‘Golds stayed close early, but couldn’t hang with the Falcons due to their struggles from the field.

“We just had a terrible shooting night,” senior guard Emilee Planert said. “We couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn.”

UW-River Falls 63
Blugolds 47

Up next: vs. UW-River Falls,
7:05 p.m. Today, at River Falls

Eau Claire cut the lead down to 10 in the second half on senior Joanna Leafblad’s conference best 49th three pointer of the year. But 10 points would be as close as the Blugolds would get. The Falcons solidified their 17th win of the season from the line hitting five in a row down the stretch to seal the game.

“We knew we were going to have to head back down there (River Falls) for the tournament,” Englund said. “I think we got some things out of our system Saturday. Now we can confidently go into Monday’s game knowing exactly what we have to do to beat them.”

The Blugolds head into the WIAC tournament with the No. 5 seed and are set to travel back to River Falls today, in search of their first victory over the Falcons.

“Nobody ever wants to get swept by a team,” Planert said. “We’re going to switch some things up and give them a new look.”

As one of five departing seniors, Planert said she realizes the importance of today’s game.

“It could be our last game so it’s time for us to step up,” she said. “Seniors are supposed to lead and if there is a time to lead it’ll be today.”

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