Men’s basketball loses in OT; three-pointer off target at buzzer

Story by David Heiling

The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team lost a close game Saturday night, falling to UW-Stout by a score of 67-66 at Johnson Fieldhouse in Menomonie.

Junior forward Dustin Kalien led the Blugolds in scoring with 23 points, including six three-pointers. Kalien had a chance in overtime to win the game with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but came up short. Coach Kyle Green thought that Kalien was the right guy to take the final shot.

“It was a great shot,” Green said. “I know he will make that shot more than he will miss it, so I’m glad that he had a chance to be in that position.”

The game was tied at the end of regulation with the two teams knotted at 59 each. Eau Claire missed a contested lay-up from junior forward Nick Craggs and two potential game-winning tips by senior center James Pfitzinger with under three seconds left in regulation.

The Blugolds scored first in overtime, but then Stout freshman guard Carter Ciolkosz scored five points and stole the ball from Blugold junior guard Jordan Petersen, all in one minute of playing time.

With just under 30 seconds to play in overtime, the game’s leading scorer, Stout sophomore guard Alex Oman hit the second of a pair of free throws to give Stout a one point advantage. After Kalien’s missed three-pointer at the buzzer, the game was over.

Offensive rebounding was a weak spot for the Blugolds on Saturday, as they were outrebounded 19-10. That margin led to extra scoring opportunities for Stout throughout the game.

Junior guard Nick Bartlett said that rebounding should be a point of emphasis going forward.

“Nineteen offensive rebounds is just plain unacceptable,” Bartlett said. “You’re not going to win many games, no matter who you’re going to be playing, if you let up that many offensive rebounds.”

Bartlett was the only other Blugold to score in double digits, recording 14 points in 28 minutes of playing time.
Oman led the way for Stout scoring 24 points. Ciolkosz also contributed 15 points for the Blue Devils in the win.

The loss brings Eau Claire’s overall record to 14-9, and a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record of 6-8. With two games to go in conference play, Eau Claire is tied for the last playoff spot with UW-La Crosse.

The Blugolds will travel to UW-Platteville on Wednesday to play the Pioneers. Platteville has a conference record of 7-8 going into Wednesday’s game with Eau Claire, and a win over the Blugolds would solidify their playoff spot for this season’s tournament.

Junior guard Nick Bartlett said the team just has to stay focused.

“Platteville is one of the teams that we are contending with for a seed in the tournament this year,” Bartlett said. “It is going to be a huge game for us and we can’t take anything lightly going down there.”