By Tommy McGowan, UWEC Sports Information
ST. LOUIS, MO. (blugolds.com)- The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team won off a buzzer beater in their first game of the Lopata Classic Friday, defeating Whitworth 77-75.
Cole Rabedeaux (Sr.-Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap) scored the first basket of the night and would continue his impressive shooting for the entire 40 minutes. He had nine points in the first half and concluded the game with 26.
Eau Claire jumped out to a 11-0 lead to begin, but things would get tight to finish the half. After a lengthy run from Whitworth, the Blugolds went into halftime down 32-26. Despite some offensive struggles, Eau Claire still held the Pirates to under 30 percent shooting.
Two three-pointers from Carter Brooks (Jr.-Lakeville, MN/North) and Rabedeaux tied things up to begin the second half. Things would remain close deeper into the half, although the Blugolds didn't retake the lead until the six-minute mark, thanks to a layup from Rabedeaux.
Eau Claire retained a three-point lead as time continued to wind down. However, a three from the Pirates made it 75-75 with five seconds left on the clock. Following a 30-second timeout, Rabedeaux ran the length of the court to make a contested jumper as time expired, giving the Blugolds the thrilling victory.
The Blugolds finished shooting 49 percent from the floor, while also out-rebounding Whitworth 43-38. In addition to the 26 from Rabedeaux, Spencer Page (So.-Rice Lake, WI) finished with 15, while Hayden Baughman (So.-Cornell, WI/McDonnell Central) added 12 off the bench. Brooks also contributed a double-double, scoring ten points and collecting ten rebounds.
The win now moves Eau Claire to 4-0 overall as they head into tomorrow's matchup between the winner of Coe College (Iowa) & Washington University (Mo.). Follow the Blugolds on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app from your mobile device.