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

    Advanced placement: Men upset Falls

    File photo by Molly Tumanic

    Sophomore Dan Archambault was perfect behind the free-throw line all night. After shooting eight for eight, he was fouled with five seconds left in the game with Eau Claire holding a two-point advantage over No. 3 seeded UW-River Falls on the road.

    He sunk his first shot with one more to go to seal the victory. This time, however, his perfect streak for the night fell short, and he missed it. River Falls reclaimed possession with five seconds to try to tie the game.

    After a timeout, River Falls hurried down the court and took a shot from the top of the key. The ball flew towards the hoop, but never fell through. The Blugolds’ upset was complete as they held on to beat River Falls 68-65 Tuesday night in front of 1,164 fans at River Falls.

    “I really thought (coming into the game), this is a team that we can beat,” coach Terry Gibbons said. “I really got to hand it to our fans who came there and supported us in full force.”

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    Blugolds 68
    River Falls 65

    With the victory, the No. 6 seeded Blugolds advanced to the WIAC semifinals and are scheduled to play the No. 2 seeded UW-Whitewater at Whitewater. The Warhawks narrowly defeated the No. 8 seeded UW-Platteville 64-61.

    “This is the time for teams to peak,” Gibbons said. “With this win, it puts us in the top four of the conference.”

    Archambault led the team in scoring with 20 points on a five of nine shooting night. Senior Jason Larson played a complete game scoring 18 points, dishing out six assists and pulling down five rebounds. Senior Andy Witte added 10 points and seven rebounds to round off the team’s offensive and defensive attack against the Falcons.

    “I think we played a ‘team’ game as opposed to River Falls pretty much forcing things to (Rich) Melzer,” sophomore Ryan Wietor said about Rich Melzer, the River Falls star forward.

    Coming into the game, the Blugolds (17-9 overall, 9-8 WIAC) had the task of guarding Melzer, who averaged 33.5 points on the Blugolds in their two meetings this season. The last time, the ‘Golds went into River Falls, they came out with a 79-64 loss with Melzer dominating the game with 39 points.

    “Melzer is a great player who is very versatile around the basket,” Wietor said. “If you don’t body him up … he presents a lot of trouble for any defender.”

    In the opening minutes of the game, Wietor drained a three, followed by a two-point jumper by Larson to take an early 5-2 lead. Melzer responded with a jumper of his own to bring the game within one; a sight the ‘Golds would see throughout the first half.

    Every time Eau Claire attempted to pull away, Melzer was there to trim their lead in the first half. The Blugolds trailed by five with 7:34 remaining until they utilized a 13-4 run to close the half with momentum and a 31-27 lead. Melzer held the bulk of the Falcons scoring with 18.

    Wietor said he felt Eau Claire’s strategy of limiting River Falls to one shot, while rebounding the miss each possession, was a key factor in winning.

    In the second half, the story remained the same as Melzer continued to make his presence known, cutting into the Blugolds’ lead and keeping the game within River Falls’ reach.

    At the 13:43 mark, Eau Claire compiled a 7-0 run behind a Witte 3-pointer and a jumper from both Larson and Archambault to go up 50-41 with 12 minutes to play.

    For the next 10 minutes, Eau Claire kept the scoring gap wide until around 2:35 when River Falls crawled back into the game. At 1:09, and with both teams in the bonus, all Eau Claire had between it and the upset was a three-point lead.

    As the clock narrowed to eight seconds, Larson was fouled and sent to the line with the score 65-62 in the Blugolds’ favor. He nailed both shots, giving the the ‘Golds a reason to celebrate.

    Their party would have to wait, however, as the Falcons went down the court in a hurry and threw up a 3-point desperation shot, which fell through the net. This was the closest the Falcons would get to regain the lead, as Eau Claire pulled away with the victory.

    “We were feeling confident in our abilities,” sophomore Casey Drake said. “We knew we would have to play a good game to beat a real good team.”

    The WIAC semifinal match between the Blugolds and Whitewater is set to start at 7 p.m. tonight at Whitewater. The ‘Golds split their series with Whitewater earlier this season.

    “We’ve been taking one game at a time and look to improve in all aspects of the game,” Wietor said. “This team is ready for Whitewater.”

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    Advanced placement: Men upset Falls