By Kyle Naber, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, WIS. (Blugolds.com) - The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team officially started the 2017-18 campaign on the road Wednesday night, falling to St. Norbert College by a score of 77-69.
Following the departure of four key seniors, one of the big questions for the Blugolds heading into a new season is who would step up to fill the void.
The Blugolds found some answers in their newest class of seniors, but will still look for more playmakers.
The Green Knights tested Eau Claire's resilience right out of the gate with a quick 10-0 run to give St. Norbert with an early 11-3 advantage. St. Norbert repeatedly had to fight off rally attempts from the Blugolds. Down by 14 points with just over three minutes left in the first half, Eau Claire rallied to trim the Green Knight lead to six points.
St. Norbert continued to try to put the Blugolds away early as they started the second half on a 9-0 run. Eau Claire would continue to rally their way back. Midway through the second half, it was Duff who would get things going from beyond the arc. Eau Claire would go on a 13-2 run with Duff scoring nine points including two 3-pointers. The run would give the Blugolds their first lead of the game since early in the first half.
With just less than three minutes left and the game evened up at 65, Head Coach Matt Siverling would try to regroup his team for the last stage of the game. Unfortunately, the Blugolds would go ice-cold down the stretch missing four of their last five shot attempts.
St. Norbert seniors D.J. DeValk and Mitchell Reinthaler proved to be too much for Eau Claire as the duo added 25 and 22 points, respectively. The Green Knights also were able to score consistently from deep as they converted on 7-17 from the 3-point line.
Eau Claire shot 52 percent from the field (27-52) but only 24 percent (5-21) from behind the arc. St. Norbert also out-rebounded the Blugolds 37-24.
Eau Claire will look to earn their first win of the season as their road trip continues on Saturday afternoon. The Blugolds travel to St. Olaf (Minn.) for a 3 p.m. tip-off. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day.