Eau Claire drops home game to No. 6 UW-Platteville

    The Blugolds struggled to defend and keep up with the Pioneers shooting

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    Photo by Gabbie Henn

    With two games left in the regular season, the Blugolds have two chances to hang on to their last spot in the WIAC tournament.

    The Blugolds were unable to contain No. 20 UW-Platteville’s hot shooting as they fell 87-50 Saturday night at Zorn Arena. Senior Chris Duff’s 15 points were not enough to topple the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC)-leading Pioneers.

    Second-year guard Montrell Oliver, who had five points on 2/2 shooting, said an improvement in individual and team defense is a point of emphasis heading into their last two games of the regular season.

    “It starts off with just keeping your guy in front of you,” Oliver said. “If you do get beat, it’s all about rotating and helping each other out.”

    Cole Rabedeaux, a second-year guard, opened the game with a jumper, and senior George Diekleman followed it up with a split at the free throw line to give Eau Claire a quick 3-0 lead.

    UW-Platteville would respond with four straight points, but Duff knocked down a jumper to recapture the lead for the Blugolds.

    The Pioneers answered with a jump shot for what would be the third and final lead change of the game. Strong shooting led to a 12-0 run and a lead that would extend for the duration of the game for UW-Platteville.

    Eau Claire couldn’t keep up with the Pioneers efficient shooting as they shot 61.8 percent (34-55) from the field. UW-Platteville’s spot-on shooting also extended beyond the three point line as they shot 10-16 from deep.

    Despite Duff’s 15 points on six of 11 shooting, the Blugolds struggled to find offense as they were held to just 33.3 (19-57) percent shooting from the field. Senior Dan Becken added 11 points to go along with two rebounds.

    The loss drops Eau Claire to 11-12 and 3-9 in the WIAC with two games left in conference play. The Blugolds still hold a tie with UW-La Crosse for the sixth and final spot in the upcoming WIAC tournament.

    Although the season hasn’t gone exactly as planned for Eau Claire, Diekelman says the morale of the team is still high.

    “We have an opportunity to get into the conference tournament and if we get in I don’t think teams will take us lightly,” Diekelman said. “Our morale is good from the standpoint that we could have a bright future.”

    Eau Claire’s next test will come against UW-River Falls at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14 on the road. They will look to serve the Falcons some payback from their 77-63 loss during their last matchup.

    Diekelman says the chance to play in the WIAC tournament and get a possible NCAA tournament bid is all the Blugolds need.

    “If we can put together a good week here and get hot, who knows what can happen,” Diekelman said. “That’s our mentality right now.”