The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Men’s basketball team falls to conference foe

    The Eau Claire men’s basketball team opened its WIAC season on Saturday as it faced UW-La Crosse in a game that came down to the wire.

    La Crosse won 72-69 when it went on a 9-0 run with 4 minutes, 28 seconds left in the game, hitting 11 of 12 free throws. Eau Claire had lead 59-55.

    “We had some mental breakdowns,” senior guard Edrick Wade said. “We had a nice lead but we didn’t step up at the end.”

    The three-point shots were the difference. The Blugolds had four more field goals than the Eagles, and hit 48 percent from the field compared to 44 percent for La Crosse.

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    Eau Claire also had two more rebounds and one fewer turnover. However, the Eagles made 11 of 25 three-point attempts compared to the Blugolds’ 3 of 15 shooting.

    Another problem was the team’s lack of defense at the end.

    “We gave up some wide open shots at the end of the game,” junior guard Jason Larson said. “That kind of hurt us.”

    Larson led all scorers with 25 points and six rebounds.

    “Jason Larson stepped up a little,” Wade said. “He showed up. He couldn’t do it by himself though.”

    Junior center Andy Witte contributed 14 points, three assists and seven boards, while freshman guard Dan Archambault added 13.

    “A few guys had solid games,” Larson said. “The balanced scoring was not there.”

    One problem facing the team is its youth. It has 11 freshmen in eligibility on the squad, while there is only one senior.

    “Whenever you’re young, that’s a factor to look at,” Wade said. “They have to learn about college intensity. We’re gonna have a lot of bumps in the road because of our youth.”

    Eau Claire also faced a height disadvantage in the game. It only has three players who are 6 foot 7 inches or taller while La Crosse had five players at least that height.

    Wade said the team has to focus more because of the team’s youth.

    “We have to stay focused,” he said. “That’s the biggest factor. We have to focus on our offensive efficiency. The whole team needs to rebound.”

    Larson said the team has a few things they need to work on this week besides its focus.

    “We need to work on end of game situations,” Larson said. “We need to work on staying poised.”

    Next, the team plays UW-Superior at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Zorn Arena.

    “We need to come in strong,” Wade said. “We need to make sure we bring it on Wednesday. This is our home. We have to take care of it.”

    Larson feels the team has a good shot against Superior.

    “We’re not too worried about Superior,” he said. “We have more than a good chance (of winning).”

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    Men’s basketball team falls to conference foe