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

    Early battle against Titans ends in Blugold loss

    Posted at 7:30 p.m. 1/29/10

    Playing in a strong conference, coach Terry Gibbons said, is tough and can have its highs and lows. Eau Claire has experienced both in its last few games, but it was a low point for the team Wednesday night in Zorn arena.

    Less than a week after its 21-point victory in La Crosse on Saturday, the Blugold men’s basketball team found themselves on the other end of the spectrum after UW-Oshkosh handed the team its seventh loss of the season with a final score of 74-61.

    “It’s a very tough loss,” Gibbons said. “That’s our conference. Toughest conference in the nation.”

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    The team’s night appeared to be off to a good start when senior Colin Boone nailed a three-pointer to put Eau Claire on the board just 11 seconds into the game. But the Titans answered quickly with a lay-up, setting the foundation for a back-and-forth battle for the lead.

    While the Blugolds managed to stay ahead of the Titans for just over the first two minutes of the game, the teams began to relentlessly battle for the lead in the minutes that followed. But with 12:51 left in the first quarter, Oshkosh scored to go ahead by one point. The Titans wouldn’t relinquish control of the score for the rest of the game.

    “I never felt that we found our rhythm offensively,” Gibbons said of the Blugolds’ production. “I thought that we just played a little more out of sync and not as focused.”

    Going into half time, Eau Claire was down 13 points with a score of 22-35. When the second period started, Eau Claire again started strong, scoring six unanswered points. Oshkosh didn’t score until just over four minutes into the period, but returned the favor with eight uninterrupted points of their own.

    Throughout the period, the Titans had as much as a 19 point lead over the Blugolds. Last minute efforts enabled Eau Claire to whittle it down, however, to the same 13 points by the end of the game. The final score of 61-74, dropping the Blugolds’ record to 11-7 overall and 4-6 in the WIAC.

    Boone said the Blugolds knew going into the matchup the game wouldn’t be an easy win.

    “They’d beaten us pretty handily earlier in the year,” Boone said, referring to the Titans’ 85-57 win over Eau Claire in early December. “We were definitely expecting a fight from them.”

    Sophomore Josh Prince led Blugold scorers with 18 points while freshman Marcus Ruh and Boone added 13 and nine points, respectively. Senior Geoff Probst’s 10 rebounds led the team in that category. Free throw shooting may have been a big factor in the game, as the Blugolds shot 11-for-19 from the free throw line while the Titans went 24-for-31. This equated to, coincidentally, a 13-point difference in Oshkosh’s favor.

    Oshkosh had a record of 7-10 overall and 2-7 in the conference heading into the Blugold game. Gibbons attributed the Titans’ desperate need for a conference win as a factor in the Blugolds’ loss.

    “I thought we had been playing well as a basketball team and I just kind of feel that we didn’t come out and play hard from the beginning,” Gibbons said. “(We) didn’t realize that we were playing a team with their back up against the wall in this conference. We need to understand that every time we come out and play a team in our conference that it’s going to be a battle until the end.”

    The Blugolds will go on the road Saturday to take on Finlandia University (Mich.). Gibbons said hard work and good attitudes is what the team needs to overcome the loss and prepare for Saturday’s game.

    “We just got to come back, we’ve got to be positive,” he said. “We got to work hard with our kids and keep developing and keep getting better.”

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    Early battle against Titans ends in Blugold loss