Men’s basketball drops third straight

    The Blugolds were unable to hang with top-ten UW-Whitewater’s perimeter shooting

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    The Blugolds will look to redeem themselves in the second installment of the War on I-94 this season against UW-Stout on Wednesday night

    Facing their third straight ranked opponent, the UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team fell to No. 8 UW-Whitewater 75-59 on Saturday night. The Blugolds, led by senior Chris Duff’s 18 points, stayed within striking distance for most of the game, but were unable to keep up with the Warhawks perimeter shooting.

    “They hurt us from the three-point line in the first half,” Duff said. “In the second half, we had too many turnovers to come away with a win.”

    Eau Claire came out fast after the tip with a quick 6-2 run, but that would end by way of a 13-4 run by UW-Whitewater; the only lead change of the night. The Blugolds fought to keep pace with the Warhawks but the lead would swell to 10 points by halftime.

    In a game where Eau Claire desperately needed a strong start to the second half to avoid a blowout and earn the upset, they got exactly that. The Blugolds opened the second half with a 10-5 run to make it a 45-40 deficit, but that was as close as it would get. Two quick threes from the Warhawks would push their lead back to nine points.

    A Dan Becken tip-in bucket with 8:42 left in the game brought the score to 61-51 to make things interesting. As was the case all night, UW-Whitewater responded with a 14-8 run and was able to cruise to a win on their home floor.

    “We’ve had struggles in the first half of games so playing more consistent throughout the start of games is big for us.” Duff said.

    Duff flirted with a double-double, grabbing eight rebounds to go along with 18 points. George Diekelman added 13 points and six rebounds of his own.

    The Blugolds shot the ball efficiently at 50% and out-rebounded the Warhawks 29-22, but the difference in the game was UW-Whitewater’s lights out shooting from three-point range.

    While the Blugolds only attempted five three-pointers, UW-Whitewater made 12 of their 21 shots from behind the arc; an impressive 57%. Along with their defensive woes, Eau Claire struggled to take care of the ball as they had 17 turnovers.

    “We have had some good takeaways from the last few games,” Diekelman said. “The key to us making the next step is to put together a full game. We have to limit other teams from making runs and get better on the defensive end.”

    The Blugolds will look to pick up their second Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory as they host UW-Stout for the War on I-94. The game will be the second of a doubleheader with the women playing at 6 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at Zorn Arena.