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The UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s basketball teams both opened their seasons with victories away against St. Scholastica (Minn.).

“It was a fun first game — they played hard and they played together,” Kyle Green, the coach of the men’s team, said.

The men’s team ended up scoring 63-41 and the women scoring 68-58. The men, who own a 14-0 all-time record against St. Scholastica, have won three straight season-openers against the Saints.

Men

Junior Nick Craggs said the opening victory was a great experience.

“We have a new attitude with new people and some good changes,” he said. “It felt good to execute what we practiced for a month.”

Green said the game “wasn’t always pretty,” and that the nineteen turnovers in the game “wasn’t the best.” He added that a good collegiate game has an average of about 12 turnovers, but in the end the game was a success.

“The defense kept things going in the first half, but the offense ended up scoring 44 points in the second half,” he said. “Some of it’s based on nerves and just getting jitters out.”

Junior Jordan Petersen led the Blugolds with 11 points and junior Andy Kleist finished the game with a double-double, pulling down a career-high 12 rebounds and scoring 10 points. Craggs led the game with four steals and scored seven points while recording four rebounds.

Junior Nick Bartlett said the energy of the game kept things going.

“If we play with that much effort and energy, it’ll be a good season,” he said.

Green said the best part of the game against River Falls was right after the game ended.

“The excitement and exuberance was there — all 15 guys played and they all felt good. It isn’t about the winning, but the performance given,” he said.

This weekend the men will play at the UW-Platteville Classic. They face North Park (Ill.) on Friday at 5 p.m. and will follow with a Saturday game against Concordia (Wis.).

 

 

Women

The women also traveled to the shores of Lake Superior for a game of basketball. The day before, senior Nicole Christianson said that many of the women wanted to win.

“It’s a good test of how the rest of the season will go — It’d be a sweet victory,” she said.

And sweet it was — the women trailed by only one point at halftime, then pooled their talents together for a win.

Junior Sarah Bingea said, like the men’s team, the game started out slow.

“The second half we came out a lot stronger,” she said.  “We looked for our strong and open people and we just went with that.”

Bingea led the Blugolds with 16 points and senior Ellen Plendl recorded a double-double with a career-high 14 rebounds and scored 15 points.

Bingea added that the “freshmen stepped up, and it was nice to see them out there for the first time.”

One of the new Blugolds, Courtney Lewis, finished the game with 12 points as she went 7-for-7 from the free throw line. She also pulled down five rebounds.

The Blugolds will host the Tip-Off Tournament this Friday and Saturday in Zorn Arena. Illinois Wesleyan and Coe College will begin the tournament at 6 p.m. Friday. The Blugolds will follow with a game at 8 p.m. against Ripon College.

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