Blugolds rally from double-digit deficit

Story by David Heiling, News Editor

The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team defeated conference foe UW-La Crosse Saturday by a final score of 69-64 at Mitchell Hall in La Crosse.

Down by 15 points with just over eight minutes to play in the game, Eau Claire started chipping away at the lead as time winded down.

Head coach Mat Siverling said that knocking down free throws and good defensive pressure was key in their comeback.

“They actually fouled Lewis (Mau) twice down the stretch on three pointers and he made all six shots,” Siverling said. “We got multiple back-to-back stops on the defensive end as well and that is usually what you need to do to win ball games.”

The Blugolds went on a 27-7 run to end the game to get their second conference victory on the road. The win brings the Blugolds to 9-9 (3-6)

Defense has been something that Siverling has stressed all season and senior guard Jordan Petersen said that the team stepped up when it needed to.

“We just got stops,” Petersen said. “We got multiple stops in a row and that is what we needed to do to get offensive opportunities.”

The stat lines for both teams were similar, each team recording nine assists, nine turnovers and 26 points in the paint.

One statistic that was not similar though, was the amount of free throw attempts each team received. The Blugolds got to the line for 32 attempts in contrast to La Crosse’s 14. Petersen credits that to the aggressiveness of the team.

“We took control and drove to the lane harder than I’ve seen in awhile,” Petersen said. “They respected our drives more which made for better, more open shots.”

Sophomore Lewis Mau led the team in scoring with 14 points shooting a perfect 100 percent from the free-throw line, while adding four assists and two steals for the Blugolds.

The Blugolds are in sixth place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings. That spot is the final transfer spot into the WIAC playoffs, something that Eau Claire has its sights on as a goal for the season.

Senior forward Zac Womeldorf is confident that they will get to the playoffs.

“Believe in us,” Womeldorf said. “We’ll get there, don’t you doubt us.”

Moving forward after a win against an opponent in the top half of their conference, Siverling continues to stress defense in the second half of conference play for this season.

“We aren’t going to outscore and blow teams away with our offense,” Siverling said. “We need to keep doing a good job in practice and having that roll over into games.”

The team’s next challenge is against UW-Superior in Superior. The Yellowjackets beat the Blugolds handily by a score of 75-53 at Zorn Arena earlier this year.