By Kyle Naber, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com)- Chris Duff (Sr. – Walker, MN) scored 18 points as the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team earned a 74-58 victory over the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (Minn.) Friday night to open the two game Holiday Classic at Zorn Arena.
After a 14-day break between games and 25 days since their last home game, the Blugolds returned to action at Zorn Arena. It took some time for Eau Claire to find their grove against the Eagles. A 3-pointer from Duff would give the Blugolds an 8-4 lead and would start Eau Claire on a 23-8 run. Duff was the highlight of the run scoring 8 points including two 3-pointers and a slam-dunk.
The Blugolds continued to build their lead from there, thanks to hot shooting from beyond the arc. Eau Claire shot a red-hot 10-of-18 from deep in the first half. The Eagles had no match for the Blugolds shooting as they found themselves trailing Eau Claire by 27 at the half.
Head Coach Matt Siverling could easily see that the team was thrilled to return to action.
"The guys were excited to be back from break and in the gym," said Siverling. "That resulted in a couple of good practices and it really showed tonight."
UNW would begin their comeback bid to start the half by staring the period on a 6-0 run. The run would prompt Siverling to call a timeout to regroup. Eau Claire would never regain their hot shooting, but would stay in control the rest of the way.
The Blugolds shot an ice-cold 1-of-8 from beyond the arc in the second half and just 10-of-29 from the field.
Siverling was able to get all 16 of his players into the game, resulting in one of the best games from the team's bench, who scored 35 points.
Eau Claire did a great job of sharing the ball, resulting in 18 assists.
"Being unselfish and sharing the ball were key," Siverling said. "That resulted in a lot of possessions ending with good, open looks for us."
Duff led the way with another strong night beyond the arc. George Diekelman (Sr. – Stevens Point, WI/SPASH) also added 12 points and seven assists, while Clay Kujawa (Fr. - Greendale, WI) added 10 points and six rebounds in the win.
Eau Claire will be back in action tomorrow night where they will take on Northland College in the second game of the Holiday Classic. The Blugolds last non-conference game will start at 5:00 p.m. Follow all the action live on Blugold Game Day.