Men’s basketball drops first two road contests

    The Blugolds lost to the Green Knights and the Oles this past week to start off their season

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    The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team fell twice on the road this past week, taking losses to both St. Norbert and St. Olaf.

    The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team officially started its season this past week, falling twice on the road. On Wednesday, the Blugolds suffered a loss to St. Norbert, with a final score of 77-69. The Blugolds had two days off before taking the floor again on Saturday, where they fell short once more, this time at the hands of St. Olaf, with a final score of 75-61.

    St. Norbert

    In the 77-69 loss to St. Norbert, the Green Knights jumped on the Blugolds from the opening tip, leading 11-3 early in the first half. St. Norbert was able to ride this momentum all the way until midway through the second half, where the Blugolds came storming back. Eau Claire went on a 13-2 run led by Chris Duff, a senior forward, who scored nine of those 13 points.

    However, the Green Knights tied the game with three minutes to play. They were able to run away with the lead, as the Blugolds’ success from the field disappeared down the stretch, missing four of their final five shot attempts.

    Head Coach Matt Siverling said the team needs work on shooting from the field.

    “We are getting good shots, but we just can’t make them,” Siverling said. “Once we make a couple of shots, we will gain confidence.”

    Along with the pains from the field, the Blugolds are coping with a lack of production from the bench. Through their first two games of the season, the Blugolds bench has combined for only 12 total points.

    Despite the statistics, however, George Diekelman, a senior guard, said he isn’t worried.

    “They (the Blugolds’ bench players) are adjusting to their first real minutes,” Diekelman said. “Once they start to find their roles and gain confidence, we’ll be good.”

    Regardless of the loss, the Blugolds had solid contributions from several players. Duff and Diekelman tied for a team-high in points scored, with 21 each. Sean Miller, a sophomore guard, tossed in 16 points along with four rebounds and four assists.

    The Green Knights led a senior-heavy attack as well, as D.J. DeValk, a senior guard, had a game-high 25 points and Mitchell Reinthaler, a senior forward, recorded a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

    St. Olaf

    The Blugolds came up short against St. Olaf a couple days later, losing 75-61. In what started as a back-and-forth game, the Blugolds trailed the Oles 34-31 at the half.

    The Oles had other plans, though, as they came out in the second half firing on all cylinders, shooting 65 percent. This put the Blugolds behind by a 16-point deficit, which they were never able to recover from, shooting 25 percent in the second half.

    Diekelman, the Blugolds’s top scorer, was 0-5 in the second half but said he isn’t too deflated.

    “I’m still confident,” Diekelman said. “They have all been close misses so I’m right there. Getting to the free-throw line the way I have also is going to help me with my shot.”

    Siverling said the team needs to focus on finding other ways to score the ball besides jump shots.

    “We need to find ways to score in the post,” Siverling said. “The bigs need to be more aggressive wanting the ball, and the guards need to do a better job looking for them.”

    Diekelman was the high-scorer for the Blugolds, with 23 points. Fourteen of these points came from the free-throw line, where he shot 17 times. Dan Becken, a senior forward, added 12 points while Duff had a quieter night, scoring 10 points on 4-11 shooting.

    The Oles performed a balanced offensive game, with five players scoring in double figures. Their top team member was Troy Diggins Jr., a sophomore forward, who poured in 18 points on 6-11 shooting. The Oles also outrebounded the Blugolds 37-25, largely in part due to Nate Albers, a sophomore guard, and Austin Korba, a junior forward, who had 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

    The Blugolds’ next contest is on the road in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they will square off with the Marian Sabres (0-2). Tipoff is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.