EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The No. 7 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team earned their first Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) win on Saturday night, defeating No. 11 UW-Whitewater 68-63.
It was a game of runs as both teams would take the momentum for a few minutes before the other came storming back. The Warhawks took an early lead in the game but a three by Chris Duff (Jr. – Walker, MN) knotted the score at seven and sparked a 9-2 run to lead 18-9 with 11:32 left in the half. Whitewater responded with a 11-2 run of their own to tie the score at 20 with five minutes to go. The teams went back and forth the rest of the half and at the break, Eau Claire held a 30-28 advantage.
For the half, the Blugolds shot 56.5 percent (13-23) from the field but only 37.5 percent (3-8) from three. The Warhawks shot 44 percent (11-25) from the field and were also 37.5 percent (3-8) from behind the arc. Josh Weix (So. – Eau Claire, WI/North) led Eau Claire with nine first-half points while George Diekelman (Jr. – Stevens Point, WI/SPASH) and Jack Martinek (Sr. – New Brighton, MN/Irondale) each had eight.
The second half was much of the same as neither team could pull away. With just under five minutes to play, several Warhawk fouls and converted free throws by the Blugolds allowed Eau Claire to maintain the lead. The large Zorn Arena came to life at the two-minute mark with a Weix dunk off a Diekelman assist.
On the very next possession, Martinek came up with a steal that led to another pair of free throws by Diekelman to give Eau Claire a 66-60 lead with 32 seconds remaining. Several more free throws would seal it for the Blugolds as they earned the 68-63 win.
Eau Claire only shot 38.9 percent (7-18) from the field in the second half, but connected on 21-28 (75 percent) from the free throw line to out-score Whitewater 38-35 in the frame.
For the game, the Blugolds were 20 of 41 from the field (48.8 percent), six of 14 (42.9 percent) from three and 22 of 30 (73.3 percent) from the line.
The Warhawks shot 46.2 percent (24-52) from the field, 35.3 percent (6-17) from behind the arc and 75 percent (9-12) from the charity stripe.
The trio of Martinek, Weix and Diekelman all scored in double figures, tallying 20, 19 and 17 points, respectively while Duff led the squad with six rebounds and four steals.
Next up for the Blugolds (11-2 1-1 WIAC) is a trip to La Crosse on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. match-up with the Eagles.
Follow all the action on Blugold Game Day.