UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball goes 1-1 on their two-game road trip

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Lucas Semb

More stories from Lucas Semb

The Blugolds defeated St. Scholastica and lost to nationally ranked Wartburg this past week

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UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball goes 1-1 on their two-game road trip

The Blugolds split this past week's games, going 1-1, their overall season record now at 4-3.

The Blugolds split this past week's games, going 1-1, their overall season record now at 4-3.

Photo by SUBMITTED

The Blugolds split this past week's games, going 1-1, their overall season record now at 4-3.

Photo by SUBMITTED

Photo by SUBMITTED

The Blugolds split this past week's games, going 1-1, their overall season record now at 4-3.

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Last Thursday, the UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team defeated the St. Scholastica Saints in a game that came down to the wire, winning by a final score of 75-74. They then traveled to Waverly, Iowa to take on the No. 14 Wartburg College Knights, suffering a 66-55 loss.

St. Scholastica

The Blugolds opened their game against the Saints on the wrong side of a scoring run. Down 7-0 just moments into the game, the Blugolds responded, starting with a tip-in basket from Steve Christiansen, a junior forward.

That basket would tie the game at 14-14, and it would stay knotted up for the majority of the first half until the final possession, where Dan Becken, a senior forward, drilled the three-point shot to take a 35-32 lead into the half.

The second half saw the Blugolds start on a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 40-32, led by Sean Miller, a sophomore guard, who nailed another Eau Claire three-point bomb. Eau Claire held the lead until midway through the second half, when the Saints’ offensive game started clicking, putting them out ahead by six points.

However, Chris Duff, a senior forward and three-point specialist, was able to drain back-to-back long balls, tying the game back up.

Down 72-68 with under a minute left, Duff was once again able to start the rally attempt, hitting a jumper to cut the lead to two. On the next possession, Duff came up big one last time, with another three-point bucket, giving Eau Claire the 73-72 lead. Brandon Newman, a St. Scholastica guard, was unfazed, going coast-to-coast to retake the lead.

With one last chance at victory, the Blugolds threw a hail-mary pass to half-court. The pass was tipped to George Diekelman, a senior guard, laying it in and securing the win for Eau Claire.

The dynamic duo of Duff and Diekelman led the way for Eau Claire, as Duff scored 26 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Diekelman recorded 15 points and four assists.

Head Coach Matt Siverling said Duff and Diekelman are strong leaders for the team.

“They are both competitors,” Siverling said. “The rest of the guys feed off of their play. They expect them (Duff and Diekelman) to show up every night.”

Diekelman said Duff’s game is really complementary to his, which is why they’ve been able to have success.

“It’s really easy to play when you got one of the best shooters in the country next to you,” Diekelman said. “He opens up lanes for me to drive and I’m just able to find him.”

Wartburg

In the game against Wartburg, the Blugolds weren’t as successful on offense, shooting only 15 percent on the game from deep and only 39 percent from the field. Wartburg took advantage of this, going on a 21-8 run over a 10-minute time span. This mixture of poor Blugold scoring and strong Wartburg shooting led Eau Claire to a halftime deficit of 36-18.

Ultimately, Wartburg would not look back, as they ended Eau Claire’s four-game win streak. Wartburg was led by Sawyer Herman, a senior guard, who scored 21 points on five out of 11 shooting. Herman was able to get assistance from Cam Kickbush and Jaran Sabus, both junior guards, as they scored 11 and eight points, respectively.

Siverling said having tough non-conference games is only getting them ready for Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

“Playing these tough games gives you a chance to figure out where you are at,” Siverling said. “It also gets you ready for league play. We are on the road a lot, have been in lots of close late-game situations and have found a way to stay in the game, so it’s preparing us.”

For the Blugolds, Duff was able to contribute 18 points and seven rebounds. His main source of help came from Cole Rabedeaux, a sophomore guard, who scored 14 points. Besides those two, the rest of the Eau Claire starters were only able to achieve 27 percent shooting.

The Blugolds have off this week and will take the floor again on Wednesday, Dec. 13 in La Crosse, Wisconsin where they will take on the Viterbo V-Hawks who currently stand at 7-4 on the season. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

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