MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team came up short tonight against the Hamline University (Minn.) Pipers, losing 84-78.
It was a hard fought game for the Blugolds. They found themselves in an early deficit, when Hamline jumped to a 13-0 lead early in the first half. Fortunately, Eau Claire rallied to end the half on a 19-6 run, giving the Pipers a slim 33-26 lead at halftime.
Both teams came out hot in the second half, exchanging baskets back and forth. The Blugolds hung close all half, including taking a 67-66 lead with 5:22 left in the half. The Pipers clung to a slim lead for the rest of the half, until Stephen Hodgson Jr. (Fr.-Suamico, Wis./Bay Port) tied the game at 78 with a jumper with just 39 seconds left.
Hamline capitalized off of two Eau Claire turnovers to score the game's final six points to secure the 84-78 victory. Turnovers were a problem for Eau Claire all night. They turned the ball over 20 times, to Hamline's 13.
Forward Nick Craggs (Sr.-Kimberly, Wis.) led Eau Claire with a game high 26 points, with an astonishing 19 second half points. He made seven of his eight shot attempts of the second half, including making all three of his three point attempts.
The Blugolds continued to show their strength in rebounding, by out-rebounding Hamline 32-26. This was the third game of the season that Eau Claire out-rebounded its opponent. In tonight's game, Craggs led the Blugolds with eight rebounds, six of them coming on the defensive end.
The Blugolds distributed the ball well, recording 15 assists in the game. Eric Effertz (So.-Ladysmith, Wis.) led the team with five assists.
The Blugolds will look to move to 2-2 when they face Crown College (Minn.) on the road this Saturday at 3 p.m.