The Blugolds defeat the Cougars

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Lucas Semb

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The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team picked up a win on the road at the University of Minnesota-Morris this past Saturday

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The Blugolds defeat the Cougars

Men's basketball achieved a victory on the road this weekend against University of Minnesota-Morris.

Men's basketball achieved a victory on the road this weekend against University of Minnesota-Morris.

Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Men's basketball achieved a victory on the road this weekend against University of Minnesota-Morris.

Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Men's basketball achieved a victory on the road this weekend against University of Minnesota-Morris.

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The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team traveled to Morris, Minnesota this past weekend, where they improved their overall record to 2-2 by defeating the University of Minnesota-Morris Cougars with a final score of 85-83.

The Blugolds came out of the gate flat to start the game, a recurring trend early on for them this season. Though initially down 11-0, Eau Claire was able to respond by going on a 6-0 run of their own, sparked by Cole Rabedeaux, a sophomore guard. Rabedeaux hit a quick three pointer, which got the energy flowing for the Blugolds, as his shot was followed up by a three-point play from Clay Kujawa, a first-year forward.

Minnesota-Morris wasn’t going to make it easy for the Blugolds, though, as they went on another run, extending their lead back to 19-13. However, Rabedeaux stepped up yet again, knocking down his second three pointer of the night. On the next possession, Chris Duff, a senior forward, splashed a three, tying the game at 19-19.

Head Coach Matt Siverling said the team was able to combat these Minnesota-Morris runs.

“You can’t panic,” Siverling said. “It’s a game of runs. It doesn’t matter if they go on a run at the beginning, middle or end, but you need to be able to respond.”

It turned out to be a game of runs all night, with Morris and Eau Claire trading blows. That is, until the final remaining seconds. In a tie game with just under three seconds left, George Diekelman, a senior guard, sank a pair of free throws, giving the Blugolds an 85-83 lead, which would ultimately be the final score, as Morris’ last second heave from half court was no good.

Aside from Rabedeaux’s three-point shots and Diekelman’s free throws, another strong performance of the night came from Montrell Oliver, a sophomore guard who recently went from starting to coming off the bench.

“It’s something Coach and I talked about,” Oliver said. “We are trying to change things up because we just weren’t getting it done before.”

Oliver was able to come off the bench in a big way for the Blugolds, scoring 14 points on six of eight shooting, while contributing on the defensive end, as well, with three steals and one block.

“I just need to make a spark,” Oliver said. “Whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, I need to make a spark. That’s my goal.”

Other notable performances for the Blugolds came from Diekelman and Duff. Diekelman had a strong all-around performance, finishing with 21 points, six assists and six rebounds, along with four steals. Duff closed out the game with totals of 24 points and four rebounds.

For Minnesota-Morris, CD Douglas, a senior guard, had a huge night, ending with 32 points and eight rebounds.

Siverling said Douglas provided a challenge for the Blugolds.

“He got confidence early,” Siverling said. “He got to the basket at will and was hard to stay in front of. If you did manage to stay in front of him, he had a good mid-range shot as well.”

Unfortunately for the Cougars, Douglas’ only significant source of help came from Nick Grove, a junior forward, who had 18 points and five rebounds. The Cougars fell to 0-5 on their season record following this game.

Next up for Eau Claire is another road contest in Duluth, Minnesota where they will take on the St. Scholastica Saints at Reif Gym. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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