Blugolds can’t get past Stout

Story by Rebecca Lubecki

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The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team lost their final game of the season 76-63 to UW-Stout this past Saturday. The team finished the season at 9-16 and 3-13 in conference.

The game was significant for seniors Amadou Fofana and Ivan Franklin, since Saturday’s game was their finale as Blugolds. Fofana has been on Eau Claire’s team all four year, and finished with 784 points and 266 rebounds in 88 games. Franklin, a transfer student from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, has played for Eau Claire just this season, finishing with 208 points and 76 rebounds.

Stout was able to win on the strength of a 10-1 run in the second part of the second half. At the beginning of the run, the score was within two points at 53-51.

“Our shooting percentage wasn’t that great from the field and we missed quite a bit of open shots,” freshman Kevin Rabbers said. “Our defense wasn’t terrible, but we didn’t close out well to protect the three-point shot.”

The Blugolds had the lead at halftime by one point.

“We came out with a lot of intensity and James Pfitzinger gave us a lot of energy with his three dunks,” Rabbers said. “We had an advantage in the post and had a lot of easy looks at the basket, but we had a hard time finishing plays.”

They even scored the first points of the second half to grab a four point lead, but they were unable to build on that.

Sophomore Jordan Petersen had a career-high that day, leading the team with 18 points and two assists, while sophomore Marcus Ruh scored 15 points and had one assist. Fofana scored six points with one assist, while Franklin scored seven total points with one assist during his last game.

Coach Terry Gibbons said the team has worked hard with a positive attitude, knowing they were a young team playing in one of the hardest conferences in the nation.

The team’s roster this year was predominately freshman and sophomores. Gibbons said there were lots of injuries this season, causing them to lose two of their starters. However, Gibbons looks forward to next season with optimism.

The men’s team will have 14 returning players, and they plan to hit the weight room hard, working on their strength in hopes of being less prone to injury.

Rabbers said that though the season didn’t really go the way he wanted it to, there are some positives he’ll take away from it.

“Our season wasn’t the best, but as a freshman I was able to get a feel for the game and gain some experience for the game at the college level,” he said. “This season definitely gave me a look at what to expect from the WIAC.”

Gibbons said that next year they will have more than the 12 home games they had this year. He also makes clear that next year, no doubt, he wants the boys to make the NCAA playoffs.

“I have been there,” he said, “and want the kids to experience it.”

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