EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - The UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team advanced to the championship game of the 42nd annual UW-Eau Claire Holiday Classic after defeating Monmouth College (Ill.) 72-52 at Zorn Arena tonight.
The Blugolds (6-3) have played in every Holiday Classic championship game since 1994 and have won the previous two seasons. Eau Claire will face Northwestern College (Minn.) tomorrow at 5 p.m. while Monmouth will face Cornell College (Iowa) in the consolation game at 3 p.m.
While Monmouth took the initial lead tonight, two back-to-back three pointers by Nick Craggs (So.-Kimberly, Wis./Kimberly/UW-Whitewater) gave the Blugolds a lead they would never give up.
Eau Claire used a 20-8 run that went from 15:54 to 9:53 to get up by 15 points in the opening half. Monmouth closed to within seven points two more times, the last time being almost five minutes into the second half.
After that, a Dustin Kalien (So.-Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chi-Hi) three-pointer followed to start the Blugolds on a 13-2 run and the Blugolds continued to increase their lead the rest of the half. Eau Claire got up by as much as 24 points with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
Marcus Ruh (So.-Green Bay , Wis./Bay Port) led the Blugolds with 14 points while Amadou Fofana (Sr.-Appleton, Wis./West) added 10 points. Craggs led Eau Claire with eight rebounds as the Blugolds outrebounded Monmouth 37-30.
Eau Claire finished shooting 53.4 percent (31-for-58) to Monmouth's 38 percent (19-for-50).