EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – After losing five straight games, the UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team was able to get a victory tonight, narrowly defeating UW-La Crosse 60-57 on Ken Anderson Court in Zorn Arena.
In the opening half, the game was tied just twice as the Blugolds led the rest of the half. Over the first eight minutes, the Blugolds outscored the Eagles 19-7. La Crosse got back to within six, two times, but Eau Claire as able to push its lead to 14 points with just under two minutes left before halftime.
La Crosse hit three free throws at the end of the first half as the Blugolds took a 33-22 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, the Eagles steadily chipped away at the Blugolds' lead and took their first lead of the night at 50-49 with less than four minutes to play. That was the only lead for La Crosse but the Blugolds held only a one-point lead with a few seconds left. Adam Hjelter (So.-Hutchinson, Minn.) hit two free throws at the end to give Eau Claire a three-point lead and La Crosse was unable to score any more points despite having the ball at the end.
Hjelter led the Blugolds in scoring and rebounding with 14 points and nine boards. Jacob Kohner (So.-Bloomington, Minn./John F. Kennedy) and Kurtis Moody (So.-Pequot Lakes, Minn.) each finished with 12 points.
The Blugolds finished the game outshooting the Eagles, 43.4 percent (23-for-53) to 33.3 percent (17-for-51) from the field, but La Crosse scored 14 points at the free throw line to just six for Eau Claire. The Blugolds narrowly outrebounded the Eagles, 36-33.
Eau Claire is now 9-11 on the season and 2-9 in the WIAC while La Crosse drops to 12-8 overall and 6-5 in conference play. Earlier this season on Dec. 7, the Blugolds fell to La Crosse 75-59.
Wednesday the Blugolds will be at UW-Superior for a game beginning at 7 p.m.