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Men's Basketball Hopes To Continue WIAC Tourney Run
Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2008
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - After shocking the second-seeded UW-Platteville Pioneers, the UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team looks for another upset against third-seeded UW-Stevens Point on Wednesday.
The Blugolds, seeded seventh in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), took 19th-ranked Platteville down 84-80 on Monday. Eau Claire only turned the ball over a season-low four times while Geoff Probst (So.-Moose Lake, MN) tied his season-high in points with 28. Less than a week ago, Eau Claire had lost to the same team by 17.
Stevens Point had to squeak by in overtime against sixth-seeded UW-La Crosse during its quarterfinal matchup. The eighth-ranked Pointers were down by five with 1:47 to play. Pete Rortvedt scored five points and Jared Jenkins made a jumper with 11 seconds left to tie it at 57-57. The extra session was a back-and-forth affair until La Crosse had to start fouling. Stevens Point wound up winning 74-66.
The Pointers swept the season series against Eau Claire with games of 57-44 on Jan. 23 and 89-68 on Feb. 13. Eau Claire was leading at half in the first game but Stevens Point outscored the Blugolds in the latter half 36-to-19. Pointer Steve Hicklin also scored his 1,000th career point that night. In the second game, Stevens Point was leading at half and took care of business down the stretch.
Eau Claire has averaged 72.7 points per game this season while opponents score 73.9. Eau Claire has outperformed teams from the floor 50.5 percent-to-46.3 percent, but opponents shoot better from the line (71.8 percent-to-65.6 percent) and from long range (38.8 percent-to-33.0 percent). Despite Monday's performance, opposing squads do hold the turnover margin by 1.1. Eau Claire wins the turnover battle by 1.2. The 15.04 Blugold assists per game are second-most in the conference behind Stevens Point.
Dan Beyer (Sr.-Waukesha/Catholic Memorial) has had a superb season, winning the regular season WIAC scoring title. He is currently at 18.9 points, second in the conference by 0.1 points. His 7.2 rebounds per game also lead Eau Claire and are third in the WIAC. He shoots 60.9 percent on field goals, good for third among WIAC shooters.
Ryan Shea (Fr.-Duluth, MN/East) and Probst have 13.4 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. Shea is also tops for the team in steals (2.0 per game), blocked shots (0.7 per game) and assists (3.2 per game).
The Pointers easily outscore their opponents, averaging 77.3 points compared to 62.7. That gives them the second-best offense and the best defense in the WIAC. The 14.6 scoring margin is the conference's biggest. They outdo teams from the floor (50.6 percent-to-43.0 percent) and from behind the arc (38.2 percent-to-33.9 percent). Opposing squads' 43.0 percent on shots is the second-worst in the WIAC and the team's 8.31 threes per game are most. Opponents just have Stevens Point from the line 72.7 percent-to-72.0 percent. The rebounding margin goes to the Pointers by 1.2 and the turnover edge is even higher at a WIAC-leading 4.46. The Pointers lead the conference in blocked shots (3.23 per game), assists (15.65 per game) and steals (7.85 per game). The assist-to-turnover ratio is also the conference's best at 1.52.
Two Pointers lead the offensive attack, those being Rortvedt and Hicklin. Rortvedt tallies 12.9 points per game while Hicklin posts 12.0. Rortvedt sinks a team-leading 2.67 treys per matchup. Bryan Beamish, the third-leading scorer at 9.8, paces the Pointers in boards at 4.6 per contest and in assists at 3.35. His assist average is third in the conference. Khalifa El-Amin has the most steals at 1.20 per game and leads the conference in assist-to-turnover margin at 2.71.
Eau Claire has not advanced to the semifinals since 2003, when they beat River Falls in round one before losing to UW-Whitewater in the semis. The last WIAC Tourney championship that Eau Claire appeared in was 2001, which it won over UW-Oshkosh. The Pointers bounced Eau Claire from last year's tourney in the first round with an 89-55 game. Stevens Point was seeded first and Eau Claire last.
The rematch will tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Stevens Point.