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Falcons fade to Blugolds

UW-River Falls' sophomore Wade Guerin (33) tries to rein in a loose ball in the first half of the Falcons' 78-72 loss to UW-Eau Claire Saturday afternoon at Karges Center. Guerin finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat. Bob Burrows photo

The UW-River Falls men's basketball team dropped its fourth straight game Saturday, 78-72, to UW-Eau Claire.

Earlier in the week the Falcons came out on the short end of a 69-56 score to UW-Superior. Both losses came at Karges Center.

With four games remaining in the regular season, the Falcons hold a tenuous one-half game lead over Superior and UW-La Crosse for the sixth and final qualifying spot in the WIAC postseason tournament. The Falcons are currently 3-9 in WIAC play (9-2 overall) while the Yellowjackets and Eagles are both 3-10.

UW-RF will travel to La Crosse (9-13 overall) Wednesday night and visit Oshkosh (6-7, 12-10) Saturday before wrapping up the regular season with games at UW-Stout (1-11, 7-14) Wednesday, Feb. 18, and home against UW-Whitewater (10-2, 18-3) Saturday, Feb. 21.

Last Saturday against Eau Claire (7-6, 13-8) freshman Aaron Anderson scored a career-high 21 points and sophomore Wade Guerin had 15 points and 12 rebounds but the Falcons couldn't maintain a second half lead and lost for the eighth time in their last nine games.

The Falcons trailed by as many as 16 in the first half, 36-20, with 6:40 to go before closing the half with a 12-0 run to pull to within four, 36-32, at the break. Anderson gave the Falcons some momentum going into the locker room by hitting a three at the buzzer.

A Jake Voeltz layup to start the second half made it a two-point game, and the Falcons tied it, 40-40, on another three-pointer by Anderson four minutes later. A three-pointer by Guerin gave the Falcons their first lead since the opening minutes, 43-41, with 15:46 remaining and a pair of Anderson free throws widened the gap to four, 45-41, less than a minute later.

The Falcon lead was two, 64-62, with 5:43 remaining following a pair of Jontae Koonkaew free throws but the Blugolds took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Geoff Probst with just under five minutes to play.

Voeltz had 11 points and six rebounds in the loss while Koonkaew added 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Ryan Shea led five Blugolds in double figures with 15 points. The Falcons outrebounded the Blugolds 38-28.

Last Wednesday night at Karges Center against Superior, Rice Lake native Dan Culy poured in 32 points and Shane Manor added 18 as the Yellowjackets handed the Falcons a 69-56 setback.

The Falcons' last lead came with 17 minutes remaining after a three-pointer by Anderson put UW-RF up by one, 35-34. But it was all Superior after that as Culy scored 22 of his 32 points in the second half.

Anderson led the Falcons with 15 points and Guerin added 14 while Colin Utke contributed 10. Koonkaew pulled down a team-high seven rebounds but scored just four points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field.