LAS VEGAS- A strong second half by 11th-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire led the Blugolds to a 77-57 win over UC Santa Cruz in the final game of the 7th Annual D3hoops.com Classic at the South Point Casino/Arena.
UCSC drops to 6-9.
With UCSC staying close and the teams trading one-point leads, Eau Claire went on a 12-0 run midway through the first to take a 35-24 lead. The Slugs came back to cut it to an eight-point deficit at halftime.
After the close first half, Eau Claire shot 53.3% field goals while holding UCSC to just 26.9% in the final frame to win comfortably. The Blugolds increased their halftime lead to as much as 15, but UCSC went on a 7-0 run punctuated by Ben Dorfman's three-pointer which cut the deficit to 49-41 with 13:58 left.
Eau Claire responded however with a 10-3 run to push the lead back to 15 and UCSC never got within ten again.
Eau Claire (10-1) was led by Jack Martinek with 17 and George Diekelman with 15.
"I'm glad we competed hard against a good team," said head coach Ron Dubois. "We will take some lessons from it."
UCSC finished shooting 31% (18-58) from the field and was 89.5% (17-19) from the line. UWEC shot 50% (29-58). The Banana Slugs finished with a season-low of seven turnovers, one off the school record for fewest set Jan. 20 2012 against Chapman.
UCSC returns home to play Oberlin on New Years Eve at 3pm.
D3HOOPS.com classic all tournament team
Thomas Bonacum, Ramapo, Most Outstanding Player
Riley Sharbono, Gustavus Adolphus
Nathaniel Jack, Hardin-Simmons
Cory Soanes, Ramapo
Chad Barcikowski, Salisbury
Kyle Creighton, UC Santa Cruz
Josh Weix, UW-Eau Claire
Aston Francis, Wheaton (Ill.)