By Kyle Naber, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - With the sour taste of a one-point loss in their last matchup, the upset-minded University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team earned revenge as they defeated the No. 4 UW-River Falls 83-80 Wednesday night in Zorn Arena.
The Blugolds started Senior Night with a bang when Deondre Lucas (Sr. – Norcross, GA/Meadowcreek) fed fellow senior Jared Schneidermann (Sr. – Brooklyn Park, MN/Concordia Academy) with a sweet dish, setting up the dunk that set Zorn Arena on fire.
Eau Claire would use this to feed their momentum as they jumped out to an early advantage with red-hot shooting from beyond the arc. The Blugolds would start the game hitting 5-7 from three.
However, the Falcons would fight their way back to pull within 10 as the Blugolds took a 41-31 advantage into the locker room. For the half, Eau Claire shot 48.6 percent (17-35) from the field and 40 percent (6-15) from behind the arc while the Falcons were 12-29 (41.4 percent) from the field and 3-7 (42.9 percent) from three.
River Falls would not go down easy in the second half, proving why they are they No.4 team in the nation and the top-ranked team in the region. The Falcons would work the Blugold lead down to a single possession, but Eau Claire always found an answer.
With 36 seconds left, Devin Buckley hit a three-pointer for the Falcons to make it a 78-75 game but Josh Weix (So. – Eau Claire, WI/North) countered with a lay-up.
Falcon Garret Pearson would respond by adding to his huge game with one more jumper to cut the lead down to three once again. Jack Martinek (Sr. – New Brighton, MN/Irondale) answered the call by hitting two crucial free-throws. Again, River Falls would respond, this time a three-pointer from Alex Henrink to trim the lead to just two.
George Diekelman (Jr. – Stevens Point, WI/SPASH) would receive the inbound pass with 7.5 seconds left and did all he could to juke the Falcon defenders. Diekelman would be fouled at 5.6 remaining and would head to the free-throw line.
Diekelman sunk the first of his attempts, but missed on the second setting up one last shot for the Falcons. River Falls, with no time-outs, was forced to move quickly up the floor and missed a three at the buzzer, giving the Blugolds the 83-80 win.
Weix led the Blugolds with 16 points and eight rebounds. Following Weix was Chris Duff (So. – Walker, MN) with 15 points. Rounding it out for Eau Claire was Martinek, Diekelman and Schneidermann who all had 12 points. Schneidermann also finished with 11 rebounds to earn the double-double.
Eau Claire outrebounded the Falcons 46 to 29 in the win while shooting 45.5 percent (30-66) from the field.
Follow all the action on Blugold Game Day.