It’s been 18 years in the making for the UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team.
Year after year the Blugolds would drop one or both games to UW-Stevens Point, but finally the Blugolds put the definitive stamp on their season, proving they’re unquestionably better than the Pointers with a 75-66 victory on Saturday night at Zorn Arena.
“It feels really good,” Blugolds coach Matt Siverling said. “But for us, it was just another game.”
In the first half it looked like history would repeat itself. After Eau Claire eked out a 63-62 victory over the Pointers in January, the Blugolds came out slow on Saturday against Stevens Point.
The Pointers turned a 13-13 game into an 11-point lead midway through the first half, but the Blugolds closed the gap, finishing the half 27-29 with a 3-pointer from guard Luke Reader with 3 seconds left.
“We were struggling with scoring in the first half,” Siverling said, “but we weren’t talking about scoring — we were getting really good shots. We were just talking about holding (the Pointers) down.”
After the break, the Blugolds came alive, taking back the lead thanks to a 3-pointer from Cole Rabedeaux that made it 38-37.
From there, Eau Claire ran away with it and never looked back.
“When we get going, we just have so much fun out there that we want to keep going,” Blugold forward Carter Brooks said.
Rabedeaux carried the bulk of the load in the second half, scoring 17 of his game-high 23 after the break. He was joined in double figures by Brooks and Spencer Page who scored 17 and 10 points, respectively.
“It was a little stressful at their place,” Rabedeaux said, “ but today, we did what we needed to do and took care of business.”
Not only was this a key win for the Blugolds, sweeping Stevens Point for the first time since the 2001-02 season, but the game marked a momentous occasion for Rabedeaux who reached the 1,000 point mark when he nailed a jumper to open the game.
“It’s an achievement I wanted to get because I never got it in high school because I played at two different schools,” Rabedeaux said, “but really, the number one goal was to sweep Point and get a second win on them here.”
The Blugolds are now 6-4 in the WIAC this season and 15-6 overall. The team looks to continue its winning streak Wednesday at Zorn Arena, when UW-River Falls comes for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
UW-Eau Claire 75, UW-Stevens Point 66
Stevens Point (14-7, 6-4): Ethan Bublitz 15, Nelson Garrett 18, Blake Ehrke 9, Aaron Knez 3, Matt Koerner 12, Zach Mootz 6, Peter Timmerman 3.
Eau Claire (15-6, 6-4): Spence Page 10, Cole Rabedeaux 23, Blake Wacholz 7, Cam Kuepers 9, Carter Brooks 17, Luke Reader 5, Brock Voigt 4.
3-pointers: Stevens Point 6 (Ehrke, Knez, Koerner 2, Mootz, Timmerman); Eau Claire 7 (Page 2, Rabedeaux, Kuepers, Brooks 2, Reader).
Halftime: Stevens Point 29-27.