By Kyle Naber, UWEC Sports Information
DULUTH, Minn. (Blugolds.com) - George Diekelman (Sr. – Stevens Point, WI/SPASH) does it again. The senior scored 15 points including a game winning layup to give the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire their fourth straight win following a 75-74 victory over St. Scholastica Thursday night at the Reif Gymnasium.
The Blugolds found themselves on the odd side of a game-opening 7-0 run for the Saints. The Blugolds were able to fight back to tie the game at 14 after a Steve Christiansen (Jr. – Apple Valley, MN) tip-in basket with just over 12 minutes left in the first half. The Blugolds would take their first lead of the game, 19-16, a few possessions later after Chris Duff (Sr. – Walker, MN) knocked down a three-pointer. Neither team was able to pull away, but it was the Saints who would hold the lead down the stretch. Hot shooting from beyond the arc challenged the Blugolds, but their no-quit mentality prevailed. With the ball for the last possession, Eau Claire was able to take a 35-32 lead into the half after Dan Becken (Sr. – Lino Lakes, MN/Centennial) hit a three.
A quick 5-0 run highlighted by a Sean Miller (So. – Waukesha, WI/Kettle Moraine) three-pointer helped the Blugolds build a lead, one that would last the majority of the half. With 11:09 left in the game, the Saints took their first lead of the second half following a three from Sam Thompson. Back-to-back three-pointers from Duff would get the Blugolds right back into business, taking a six point advantage. The game would stay close all the way to the end.
Trailing 72-68 with a minute left to play the Blugolds turned to their dynamic duo of Diekelman and Duff. It was Duff who would start the comeback with a jumper. A steal from Miller would set up a deep three-pointer from Duff, putting Eau Claire up 73-72. The ensuing possession saw St. Scholastica's Brandon Newman going coast-to-coast for the go-ahead layup.
Duff led the Blugolds with 26 points, getting hot from beyond the arc going 6-of-9. Miller, Becken and Montrell also joined the dynamic duo of Duff and Diekelman scoring double-digits in the win.
Head Coach Matt Siverling was thrilled again with his team's effort on the road.
"Anytime you can go on the road and beat a quality team like St. Scholastica obviously you're pleased as a coach," Siverling said. "It was evident in the effort our guys put in down the stretch."
Eau Claire and St. Scholastica were locked in a tight battle that saw the lead change 10 times and the game tied six times. Ultimately, it was solid execution that led the Blugolds to the win.
"We made key plays when we needed to in some crucial situations," Siverling said. "When you execute, you put yourself in position to steal one away from home."
Steal one away from home is exactly what they did. Despite being out-rebounded 39-26, the Blugolds were able to limit their turnovers to just seven.
Eau Claire will look to earn their fifth straight win against No. 14 ranked Wartburg College (Iowa) on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m. Follow all the action on Blugold Game Day.