SUPERIOR, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - Despite playing a close game, the UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team let the win slip away in the final minutes, dropping its fifth consecutive game with the 65-53 loss to UW-Superior tonight in Mertz Mortorelli Gym.
Though Superior boasted a 12-point lead at the game's end, the score doesn't reflect the Blugolds' efforts early in the game. Throughout the first half, Eau Claire stayed within reach of the Yellowjackets. Superior never gained more than a five-point advantage and the Blugolds held the lead on four separate occasions.
A mere three points separated the teams at the start of the second period, but the close game became a rollercoaster ride for the Blugolds. Superior went on scoring surges, inflating its lead to seven, nine and even double digit figures throughout the 20 minutes.
For most of the half, the Blugolds were able to fight back. Facing a nine point deficit with 10 minutes on the clock, James Pfitzinger (Jr.-West St. Paul, Minn./Academy Of Holy Angels/St. Norbert) put up two successful free throws, slammed in a dunk and, with a layup from Marcus Ruh (So.-Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port), brought the Blugolds back to within three with 6:31 remaining. But in the closing minutes, the game slipped out of Eau Claire's reach. Superior outscored the Blugolds 13-4 and reached the game-high 12 point lead by the final buzzer.
Pfitzinger led the Blugolds in the loss, racking up 15 points and collecting eight rebounds. Ruh and Nick Craggs (So.-Kimberly, Wis./Kimberly/UW-Whitewater) also broke the double digit barrier in points, recording 14 and 11, respectively. Combined, the three players earned 40 of the team's 53 points. The Blugolds also averaged 36.2 percent (21-for-58) from the field, which stacks up slightly lower than Superior's 48.9 percent (22-for-45).
The loss drops the Blugolds to 9-15 overall and 3-12 in the WIAC. Superior improves to 14-10 on the season with a 6-9 conference record. The Yellowjackets also secured a spot in the WIAC Tournament while the Blugolds were eliminated from post-season play.
The Blugolds will play this Saturday against the Blue Devils. They will travel to UW-Stout for the final game of the season, which is set for 3 p.m.