EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Despite trailing for a majority of the game, the UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team came back to defeat St. Olaf College (Minn.) 69-62 on the first day of the 44th Annual UW-Eau Claire Holiday Classic on Ken Anderson court in Zorn Arena tonight.
The Oles jumped out to the initial lead in a game that was close early. The game was tied three times over the first five minutes while the lead changed hands twice.
But after the third tie, St. Olaf took the lead and maintained it through the rest of the half. The Oles got up by as many as eight points in the opening half and led 37-30 at halftime.
In the first minute of the second half, the Oles scored four straight points to get up by 11, their largest lead of the night.
Over the next nine minutes, the Blugolds began to come back and outscored St. Olaf 21-8 to take a two-point lead (51-49) with 10 minutes remaining.
The game stayed close the rest of the way with the score being tied five more times. St. Olaf led by one point with less than three minutes to play, but over the final two and a half minutes, Eau Claire outscored the Oles 10-2 to win by seven.
Lewis Mau (So.-Colfax, Wis.) led three Blugolds in double-figures as he finished with 15 points. Nick Craggs (Sr.-Kimberly, Wis.) added 12 points while pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.
The Blugolds shot 35.1 percent (20-for-57) from the floor while the Oles shot 42.9 percent (21-for-49). Four Eau Claire baskets came from beyond the arc while St. Olaf made just one three-pointer. The Blugolds also outscored the Oles at the free throw line 25-19.
With the win, Eau Claire gets back to .500 with a 6-6 record while St. Olaf drops to 3-4.
Saturday the Blugolds will face Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.) at 5 p.m. Earlier today, Gustavus defeated UW-Superior 71-60 in game one of the Holiday Classic.