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

    Blugold men lose battle against UW-Superior in overtime

    Posted 11:00 p.m. 2-18-2010

    After overcoming an 18-point deficit to put an important conference game in overtime, the men’s team couldn’t hold on and lost to UW-Superior 89-79.

    From the beginning of the matchup, the game was a battle. While a layup by junior Amadou Fofana put the Eau Claire on top initially, the lead flip-flopped over 15 times throughout the first half.

    “It was a hard-fought game by both teams,” coach Terry Gibbons said. “The kids showed a lot of toughness.”

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    While neither team had a clear advantage at any point in the first half, the second period was a different story.

    The Yellowjackets came out of halftime on fire, building their lead from two to 14 in just over three minutes. While a 3-pointer from sophomore Nick Bartlett briefly interrupted Superior’s run, the Yellowjackets picked up right where they left off and had increased their lead to 18 points with 15:14 remaining.

    “We came out a little flat,” senior Jordan Kappen said. “But we weren’t going to give up.”

    And so the plot changed again. The Blugolds methodically chipped away at Superior’s lead over the next 10 minutes. With about five minutes to go, a 3-pointer by senior Colin Boone gave the Blugolds the two-point advantage and caused the home crowd to burst into cheers.

    “We came right back with our own run,” Kappen said. “We kept fighting.”

    The action that ensued was reminiscent of the first half, with the two teams trading the lead. Neither team could secure the lead for itself, though. When the buzzer sounded, Eau Claire and Superior were tied, 71-71.

    Heading into the five-minute overtime, the Yellowjackets again shone from the start. Superior scored first and never relinquished the lead. They outscored the Blugolds 18-8, resulting in a final score of 89-79.

    Kappen said the team was still fighting for their season during overtime, but lost their composure.

    Fofana led the Blugolds in scoring, racking up 18 for the evening. Boone and Kappen also contributed 16 and 12 points, respectively. Sophomore Josh Prince led the team in rebounds with eight for the night.

    In rebounding, Superior was able to nab more than Eau Claire throughout the evening. The Yellowjackets came down with 44 for the game while the Blugolds grabbed 31.

    Penalties may have also played a factor in the game, as Eau Claire was charged with 24 fouls, which tied the team’s season-high number. From the penalties, Superior tallied 19 points while Eau Claire scored 12 points on the Yellowjackets’ 14 fouls.

    The loss set the Blugolds back to a 6-9 record in the WIAC and 14-10 overall. It also drops the team to seventh in the conference standings, just one place shy of the six-team cutoff for the WIAC tournament.

    Though the team’s postseason hopes were severely dampened by Wednesday’s loss, Kappen said Eau Claire has to focus on the game against Stout and rely on losses for other teams.

    “We have to make sure to get the win at Stout,” he said. “We have to get the ‘W’ and hope things fall into place.”

    Despite the loss, the game was still special for the Blugolds, Kappen said, as it was the last home game for the seniors’ careers. Gibbons appreciated the deep commitment of the players throughout their careers.

    “It’s heartfelt for our seniors,” Gibbons said. “They have given so much over the last four years.”

    In addition to being senior night, the game marked senior Jacob Schlub’s return to the game. Schlub, who missed a large portion of the season with a back injury, was cleared to play and scored five points during the Blugolds’ second period run. Although he had been sidelined, Gibbons said Schlub has been a key part of the team the whole season.

    “He’s been our motivator,” Gibbons said.

    Eau Claire will wrap up its regular season with a road game against rival UW-Stout on Saturday. The team will prepare for the game against the Blue Devils as they would any game, Gibbons said. The team’s offense and defense will make adjustments based on Stout’s schemes, Gibbons said, adding the team wants to be ready for “what they (Blue Devils) are going to do before they do it.”

    “We have a great opportunity to upset Stout,” he said. “We look forward. Our kids are upbeat.”

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    Blugold men lose battle against UW-Superior in overtime