EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team got up by as many as 14 points against the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (Minn.) but the Eagles fought back to get within three before the Blugolds won 70-65 in the final game of the 45th Annual UW-Eau Claire Holiday Classic in Zorn Arena tonight.
While the Blugolds scored the game's first basket, Northwestern then went on a 6-0 run to reach its largest lead of the night. The Blugolds quickly got back into the game and took the lead for good less than five minutes into the opening half.
Midway through the first half, Eau Claire led by 11 points and while the Eagles got back to within eight points five times after the 10-minute mark, the Blugolds led 44-33 at halftime.
In the second half, the Blugolds worked their way to a 14-point lead and were up by 13 with six minutes to play. Northwestern then used a 10-0 run to cut the Blugolds' lead to just three with a minute left. But two free throws by Adam Hjelter (So.-Hutchinson, Minn.) at the end gave the Blugolds the five-point victory.
Hjelter led the Blugolds in scoring with 16 points while three others reached double-figures. Kurtis Moody (So.-Pequot Lakes, Minn.) led the game with eight rebounds.
Eau Claire improves to 7-5 on the season while Northwestern drops to 3-8.
In the early game of the Holiday Classic today, UW-River Falls defeated Northland College 76-46.
The Blugolds will be back in action Saturday as part of a doubleheader at UW-Stout. The Blugold women will face the Blue Devils at 3 p.m. and the men's game will follow at about 5 p.m.