GALLATIN, Tenn. (Blugolds.com) – After trailing by as many as 22 points in their first game of the Music City Classic, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team mounted a second-half comeback to force overtime but fell to Bridgewater State University (MA) by a score of 80-77 on Saturday.
Bridgewater grabbed an early lead with back-to-back threes to start the game and had a 22-point lead at the 6:50 mark before the Blugold offense picked up and started to close the gap. UW-Eau Claire trailed by 11 at the half, 44-33, with Cole Rabedeaux (Jr. – Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap) leading the Blugolds with 11 points at the break and Ben Widdes (Sr. – Rice Lake, WI) following with eight. The Bears shot 46.9 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from three to the Blugolds' 39.3 percent and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
In the second half, the Bears went on a 11-0 run before back-to-back steals by Widdes and
Ryan David (Jr. – Sugar Grove, IL/Kaneland) started to get things going for Eau Claire. Another steal, this time by Rabedeaux and another by David and Widdes brought the Blugolds back.
A Rabedeaux layup with 7:10 left in the second half cut the Bridgewater lead to 10 and the junior would hit two free throws and another layup to bring the Blugolds within 6 with 5:44 left.
Sean Miller (Jr. – Waukesha, WI/Kettle Moraine) would then come up with a steal and a Rabedeaux three forced a Bridgewater timeout with Eau Claire trailing 62-59 at the 4:57 mark. Rabedeaux would score again, tallying all of the Blugolds' points in a 11-0 run. Widdes would make it 13 after a David steal, giving Eau Claire their first lead of the game and forcing another Bridgewater timeout. Miller would tie it again late with a jumper to force the game into overtime.
The Blugolds would run out of gas in overtime, however, as Bridgewater would regain the lead. Rabedeaux hit a three with 21 seconds remaining to pull back within three but it would not be enough as Eau Claire would fall by a final score of 80-77.
Rabedeaux finished with a career-high 30 points while Widdes and Miller tallied 21 and 17 points, also career-highs. Widdes also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds with David coming off the bench to lead Eau Claire with five steals.
The Blugolds finished the game shooting 42.6 percent (29-for-68) from the field but only 23.8 percent (3-for-21) from three and 50 percent (14-for-28) from the charity stripe. Eau Claire forced 21 Bridgewater turnovers which they converted into 32 points.
The Blugolds (6-4) will face Mt. Aloysius (PA) Sunday at 11 a.m. in their second and final game at the Music City Classic. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app on your mobile device.