EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com)- The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's basketball team won their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) opener Saturday night, defeating UW-Whitewater, 66-59. The game also served as Parent Appreciation Night.
A 10-3 run to begin the game gave Eau Claire an early lead, but the rest of the first half was back-and-forth. A layup from the Warhawks as time expired gave them a 29-25 edge going into the break.
The Blugolds shot 9-22 from the field in the first period. They got a pair of important three-pointers from Spencer Page (So.-Rice Lake, WI) during the half. Page would be their leading scorer at the break, with eight points.
A cold start to the second from UWEC saw Whitewater increase their lead, as they lead 39-27 before a much-needed timeout from the Blugolds. That lead would hover around double-digits until the 13-minutes remaining mark, when the momentum shifted. Cam Kuepers (Jr.-Madison, WI/Lakeside Lutheran) and Cole Rabedeaux (Sr.-Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap) hit a pair of layups, and then Kuepers hit a three to make it 45-40.
With six minutes remaining in the game, Eau Claire retook the lead. Rabedeaux finished off a layup to tie things at 51, then nailed a three moments later. Eau Claire would hold that lead for the remainder of the game. The dagger came from Carter Brooks (Jr.-Lakeville, MN/North), who connected on another three-pointer to give the Blugolds a 63-57 advantage with under two minutes remaining.
The second half was a masterful offensive showing for the Blugolds, as they shot 15-21 from the field (71%) and 4-7 from downtown. They also moved the ball well, with eight assists during the period, four of those coming from Rabedeaux.
Rabedeaux was once again the leading scorer for UWEC, finishing the night with 23 points, while shooting 10-14. Now into league play, Rabedeaux is currently second in the WIAC in scoring, averaging 21 points per game. Behind him, Page added 13 points and Brooks totaled 11.
The victory moves Eau Claire's overall record 10-2 and now 1-0 in the WIAC. They will be back home next Wednesday, January 8th when they collide with UW-Stout at Zorn Arena. They'll play after the women's team, tipping off at 8 PM. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app from your mobile device.