EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team secured an 81-64 victory over Judson University (Ill.) in the first round of the Blugolds' 43rd Annual Holiday Classic at Zorn Arena tonight.
With the win, the Blugolds advance to the championship game against Simpson College (Iowa), which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. This is the 19th consecutive year the Blugolds will be competing in the championship game. Simpson advanced to the championship game after beating Bethany Lutheran (Minn.) 83-71 earlier Thursday.
Against Judson, the opening minutes were closely contested. Judson opened on a 4-0 run and the Blugolds didn't score until three minutes into the game.
The Blugolds continued to battle and took their first lead of the night more than eight minutes into the game. Judson came back to take the lead but Eau Claire took the lead for good with just over nine minutes to play in the half after a Dustin Kalien (Jr.-Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chi-Hi) three-pointer.
Over the final nine minutes of the first half, the Blugolds outscored Judson 24-7 to take a 37-20 lead into halftime.
Eau Claire led by double-digits the rest of the night and built its largest lead of the game early in the second half at 22 points.
James Pfitzinger (Sr.-West St. Paul, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels) recorded a double-double as he tied for a game-high 18 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Kalien also came away with 18 points while two others finished in double-figures.
Eau Claire improves to 7-4 on the season while Judson drops to 3-12. This was the first meeting between the two teams in history.