UW-Eau Claire Blugolds win their 4th game straight

UW-La Crosse falls to UWEC as Blugolds beat them 61-52

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First-year forward Spencer Page gets ready to attack the rim.

The UW-Eau Claire’s men’s basketball team won their season-best fourth straight game Saturday, knocking off nationally-ranked UW-La Crosse, 61-52. The winning streak comes at a favorable time, as just two games remain in conference play.

The first half proved to be a tightly-knotted matchup, as the lead flipped hands multiple times. However, the Blugolds were able to take a five-point advantage into the locker room at halftime. In what was a low-scoring half, UW-Eau Claire took the lead by committee, as four Blugolds led the team with four points apiece.

Both the Blugolds and the Eagles struggled from the field as they shot 39 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The Eagles were able to keep the game close due to making six free throws.

Both teams ramped it up in the second half though, where they scored 76 of the game’s 113 total points. Stepping up in a big way for the Blugolds was Spencer Page, a first-year forward. He shot a perfect three-for-three from the field on his way to 10 second-half points.

A more unlikely source of point production, though, was Blake Wacholz, third-year guard. Wacholz, who averages just 3.6 points per game, broke out to tie Page for a game-high 13 points.

“We found success when we were able to get the ball inside and that in turn opened up many other options for our offense,” Wacholz said. “At the end, I was just able to knock down some free throws.”

The Blugolds shot 50 percent from the field in this second half and converted from the free throw line at a 93 percent clip. UW-La Crosse improved on their first half numbers as well, shooting 45 percent from the field in the second half, but it was not enough.

The win sent the Blugolds to 7-5 in WIAC play, good enough for fourth-place in conference. With two games remaining in WIAC play, the Blugolds are still chasing a first-round conference tournament home game.

“We are playing well together,” Head Coach Matt Siverling said. “We aren’t relying on any one guy. We’ve had two guys score double-digits in multiple games. Defensively, we aren’t playing great, but we are playing good enough. We are putting ourselves into a good position for the conference tournament.”

Both Siverling and Wacholz echoed the same idea that at the end of a season is where they want to be playing their best basketball. They believe they are doing just that, and the NCAA tournament is something that is on the back of their minds.

“We have work to do,” Siverling said. “We didn’t have enough wins at the beginning of the year where we will draw an at-large bid (to the NCAA tournament). We know we will have to win the conference tournament if we want to get in. So it’s nice that we are playing well.”

The Blugolds next game will be on Wednesday night at Zorn Arena as they play host to UW-River Falls. The River Falls Falcons will enter the game at 10-13 overall, and 3-9 in WIAC play. The Blugolds stand at 14-9 overall, and 7-5 in conference. Tip off is at 7 pm.

Semb can be reached at [email protected].