The 12th-ranked University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point men’s basketball team dropped their second straight game, falling to UW-Eau Claire on Saturday with a final score of 77-58. It was the first time since Feb. 7, 2001, that the Pointers have lost to Eau Claire.
The Pointers were without the team’s leading scorer Tyler Tillema, who suffered a wrist injury in the overtime loss to UW-Stout on Wednesday, and it had an effect on the Pointers on both ends of the floor.
“Obviously Tyler is a tremendous player that we missed,” said Pointers’ senior center Jordan Brezinski. “We tried to have his back and win without him, but we struggled to score.”
The Blugolds shot a blistering 57.7 percent in the first half, and ended up shooting 48.1 percent from the field in the game. The Pointers converted a season low 32.1 percent of their attempts in the game.
“They were very good,” said Pointer head coach Bob Semling. “They shot the ball very well--give them credit.”
Eau Claire ran out to a quick lead, and never looked back. At one point in the first half, the Blugolds held an 18-point lead. The Pointers cut the lead down to 12 going into half, with a score of 42-30.
UWSP came out fighting in the second half, but it still wasn’t enough. The Pointers brought the deficit down to eight points on a couple of occasions, but could not string together a good run.
“We didn’t feel like we could catch any breaks out there,” Semling said. “They forced young players to beat them, and we didn’t have anyone to shoulder the load.”
With 58 points, the Pointers recorded their second lowest scoring total of the season.
“They just didn’t go down for us tonight,” Semling said.
Senior guard Dan Tillema racked up a team-high 17 points to lead the Pointers. Freshman guard Joe Ritchay added career highs in points and rebounds, scoring 10 and gathering 5 boards.
Junior guard Jordan Peterson led the Blugolds in scoring, with a game-high 23 points.
Brezinski led the team with 7 rebounds, but was held to just 4 points.
“Eau Claire did a good job in doubling Dan Tillema and I because they didn't have Tyler to worry about,” Brezinski said.
The Blugolds out-rebounded Stevens Point 40 to 31, with Eau Claire’s senior James Pfitzinger leading the way with a game-high 13 boards. The Pointers also posted a season-low 5 assists and turned the ball over 10 times.
Even after stumbling down the stretch, the Pointers still have confidence.
“Our team will not be defined by a bad week of basketball,” Semling said. “We will regroup, get back home, and get healthy.”
With the loss, the Pointers fall to 19-6, and 12-4 in conference. With the win, Eau Claire improves their record to 15-10, 7-9 in conference. With the Pointer loss, and UW-Whitewater’s win, the Pointers fall to the number three seed in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
The Pointers will hit the hardwood again on Wednesday at home, starting the conference tournament against UW-Superior.
“We have to get our swagger back and that will start in practice,” Brezinski said. “If we have a couple of good practices before we play on Wednesday, then we will be able to make a run to the championship on Sunday.”