St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 3, 2016 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team fell to No. 21 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 64-50 in the 33rd Annual Lopata Classic Championship game at the WU Field House Saturday in St. Louis.
UW-Eau Claire improved to 6-0, while WashU suffered its first loss and fell to 5-1.
Eau Claire's Chris Duff was named the Robert L. Burnes Most Valuable Player while leading the Blugolds in scoring over the weekend, including 18 points against WashU. Joining Duff on the All-Tournament team were George Diekelman (UWEC), junior Matt Highsmith (WashU), junior Andrew Sanders (WashU), Will Crain (UC-Santa Cruz) and Andrew Lowrie (Rhodes).
The Bears and Blugolds were locked into a tightly contested game as the lead changed nine times throughout the course of action. WashU scored six-consecutive points to build a 10-4 lead in the first half before Eau Claire responded with a 12-0 run.
Junior David Schmelter stopped the Blugold run with a lay-up assisted by junior Jake Knupp with 6:50 to go in the half. Following junior Michael Bregman's jumper, Highsmith put the Bears ahead by sinking a shot. Knupp assisted on all three WashU baskets.
The Bears closed out the half with a 26-20 lead. Bregman led all scorers at the break with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor. Schmelter dominated the boards with nine of WashU's 20 first half rebounds.
Eau Claire cut the Bears lead in half on a converted three-point shot from Duff and retook the lead from WashU with 15:02 remaining on the clock on a layup from Diekelman. Sanders recaptured the lead momentarily for WashU with a layup of his own before the Blugolds held the lead for six minutes of play.
Highsmith's jumpshot at 8:21 gave WashU a 45-44 lead and moments later freshman Matt Nester sank a shot from beyond the arc. Nester's three gave the Bears their final lead of the game, 48-46 with 7:24 left to play.
The Bears narrowed the gap to within four points with 2:13 left, but the Blugolds scored the final 10 points of the contest while ending the Bears 36-game winning streak during the Annual Lopata Classic Tournament.
Sanders was the lone Bear to reach double-figures in scoring with 10 points while Schmelter finished with a game-high 12 rebounds. Knupp also led the team with five assists.
The Bears shot a season-low 36.8 percent (21-57) from the field. In contrast, Eau Claire shot 48 percent from the floor including 46.2 percent from three-point range.
Diekelman (19), Duff (18) and Josh Weix (10) reached double-figures for the Blugolds.
WashU hosts Fontbonne University (0-3) on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m., followed by a road game at Central College (4-1) on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: WashU leads the all-time series with UW-Eau Claire 2-1… WashU and UW-Eau Claire entered the game as two of the 38 remaining undefeated programs.