EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Despite leading by as much as 21 points in the second half, the UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team allowed Finlandia University (Mich.) to get back in the game before eventually putting away the Lions 95-82 at Zorn Arena tonight.
The game was closely contested in the opening half. The Blugolds led the majority of the first, but Finlandia found its way to leads four times while the score was tied three other times. Eau Claire never led by more than seven points in the first half.
In the second half, the Blugolds built a 20-point lead five minutes into the half using a 16-2 run. Between the 16 and 15 minute marks, Finlandia was charged with three technical fouls, which led to five points for Eau Claire.
After the Lions' head coach was sent to the locker room after receiving two of Finlandia's three technical fouls, the Lions went on a 21-6 to get back into the game. They trailed by only five points with 10 minutes remaining.
The closest Finlandia got the rest of the night was four points with seven minutes remaining but the Blugolds held strong and outscored the Lions 24-15 over the final seven minutes to win 95-82.
James Pfitzinger (Sr.-West St. Paul, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels) led the game with a career-high 24 points and also had team-high seven rebounds. Pfitzinger was 9-for-11 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
Finlandia attempted 74 shots, 46 coming from beyond the arc and finished with a 40.5 shooting percentage. The Blugolds edged the Lions with a 46.3 percentage (31-for-67). Eau Claire scored 22 of its points from the free throw line as Finlandia had 28 fouls while the Lions had five points from just 10 Blugold fouls.
The 95 points the Blugolds put up tonight was their highest total since facing Finlandia on January 9, 2010 in a 97-80 victory.
Eau Claire is now 11-6 overall while Finlandia drops to 7-13.
Saturday, the Blugolds will be home against UW-La Crosse. The game is part of a doubleheader with the women and will get underway about 5 p.m.