Falcons knock off TommiesThe UW-River Falls men’s basketball team knocked off the defending NCAA Division III champions for the second straight season by defeating St. Thomas, 79-64, in the Falcons’ home opener Nov. 22 at Karges Center.
The UW-River Falls men’s basketball team knocked off the defending NCAA Division III champions for the second straight season by defeating St. Thomas, 79-64, in the Falcons’ home opener Nov. 22 at Karges Center.
Last year the Falcons defeated UW-Stevens Point, the 2009-10 national champs, to propel UW-RF to a school-record 15-game winning streak.
The Falcons followed up last Tuesday’s win over St. Thomas by splitting a pair of games at the Pacific Lutheran Thanksgiving Tournament in Parkland, Wash., over the weekend. They defeated Pacific Lutheran, 68-59, Friday night before losing to Puget Sound, 67-64 Saturday.
Last Tuesday at Karges Center, Falcon senior Shane Manor led all scorers with 22 points, the seventh 20-point game of his UW-RF career. The Altoona native missed just one shot from the field, hitting 9-of-10 before getting into foul trouble midway through the second half.
After five early lead changes, the Tommies held the lead for nearly 11 minutes in the first half before Brian Kimble found Manor for an alley-oop dunk to tie the score at 24-24. Wade Guerin put the Falcons up for good at the 4:20 mark of the first half with an easy layup. Guerin finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
Also putting up double digits for the Falcons were Chris Palmer and Ollie White. Palmer had 11 points and six rebounds while White had 10 points, four rebounds and two steals.
The Falcons controlled the game with sharp-shooting, crisp passing and strong defense. They had their best shooting night in 17 games as they hit nearly 60 percent of their shots. The 19 team assists is the most since Jan. 5, 2011, against UW-Stout when they had 21. They took advantage of Tommie mishaps, scoring 22 points off 15 turnovers, and added 16 second-chance points.
“It was a great team effort tonight. We executed our game plan,” said Falcon head coach Jeff Berkhof. “One of the keys was to handle their pressure and our guards did that.”
St. Thomas scored the first bucket of the second half to cut the Falcon lead to two, but UW-RF outscored the Tommies 43-32 in the second half to snap St. Thomas’ 14-game winning streak.
UW-RF entered the game ranked 21st in the D3hoops.com poll while the Tommies were No. 8.
Friday night out in Washington, five Falcons scored in double-digits in a 68-59 win over tournament host Pacific Lutheran. Guerin and Manor led the way with 14 points each and White and Aaron Anderson followed with 13 apiece while Kimble contributed 10.
With the game tied, 45-45, with 8:34 remaining, the Falcons went on a seven point run to take control. Kimble hit a three and Guerin scored twice on layups to give the Falcons a 52-45 lead with 6:48 to play. The closest PLU could get after that was six points while the biggest Falcon lead was 61-50 with 4:06 remaining when White scored on a layup.
Guerin finished with a double-double with 11 rebounds while Kimble had a career high eight assists.
The Falcons had their four-game winning streak snapped with a 67-64 loss to Puget Sound on Saturday.
The Falcons led 64-63 with 1:46 remaining following a layup by Taylor Peterson but Puget Sound won the game at the free throw line while holding UW-RF scoreless down the stretch. A three-point attempt by Anderson at the buzzer was off the mark.
The Falcons shot just 36 percent from the field (21-of-58), including just 4-of-19 from beyond the arc. It was the team’s worst shooting performance, percentage wise, of the season.
Manor led UW-RF with 24 points and 10 rebounds while Kimble added 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Falcons, now 4-2 overall, will open WIAC play Saturday at UW-Platteville at 5 p.m.