The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team beat no. 12 UW-Stevens Point Saturday night 78-59 at Zorn Arena on senior night.
The Pointers were the top team in the conference coming into Saturday’s game, having won every single meeting with Eau Claire since 2001.
Eau Claire started the game with a dunk from senior James Pfitzinger and never lost the lead in the game. Their largest lead was 18 points late in the first half.
Beating Stevens Point was a big goal for many on the team coming in, but it was especially meaningful for Pfitzinger and fellow senior guard Nick Bartlett. Bartlett said that the win was bittersweet because he is graduating, yet he loved the feeling of beating the number one team in the conference.
“It was fantastic,” Bartlett said. “That was the one team in the WIAC that I had never beaten. It was a big goal of mine and a big goal of my dad’s to take down Stevens Point, and it finally happened.”
Pfitzinger had three dunks in his final game as a Blugold basketball player, two coming in the final four minutes of regulation. He said he was ecstatic at the chance to put the exclamation point on the game and his career.
“Putting those (dunks) down felt good,” Pfitzinger said. “Can’t get any easier looks than that. I’m just really happy and glad we got the win here at home.”
The Blugolds were one game behind UW-La Crosse for the sixth and final spot in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament. With the win Saturday night, the team still had had a chance of making the tournament with a loss from the Eagles.
La Crosse played in Superior against the Yellowjackets Saturday night, and despite a last second shot attempt from near half court from the Yellowjackets, La Crosse won the game by a score of 65-64, eliminating the Blugolds from playoff contention.
Coach Kyle Green thinks that this game is bittersweet because the team did not make the playoffs. However, he said he thinks this program is going to go far in seasons to come.
“This game was a great springboard for us,” Green said. “It needs to be, we need to understand why we had success tonight, and the players need to understand how they are going to keep that success and how we are going to get better.”
Junior guard Jordan Petersen scored a game high 23 points and added five rebounds in the winning effort. Pfitzinger scored eight points to go along with his game high 13 rebounds, and Bartlett recorded eight points in his last game as a Blugold.
Petersen is already looking forward to next season, saying that this program is going nowhere but up.
“This win is a huge motivator for us,” Petersen said. “A motivator for the younger guys and a motivator for me personally. Just to know that we can beat the top in the conference and top in the country and push forward.”
Senior guard Dan Tillema led the way for the Pointers, scoring 17 points on 5-18 shooting from the floor. Freshman guard Joe Ritchay and junior guard Jordan Giordana were the other players in double figures for the Pointers, scoring 10 points each.
The Blugolds end the season with a record of 15-10 overall and a WIAC record of 7-9.