A balanced scoring attack led the second-ranked UW-Stevens Point men's basketball team to a 74-55 win over UW-Eau Claire in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) opener for both teams on Wednesday night at Zorn Arena.
Joe Ritchay (Wisconsin Rapids, WI/Lincoln) led the Pointers (5-0, 1-0 WIAC) in scoring with a season-high 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Jordan Lutz (Amherst, WI/Amherst) and Trevor Hass (New London, WI/New London/Augustana (SD)) each added 13 points, while Austin Ryf (Winneconne, WI/Winneconne) chipped in with nine points and four assists. Lutz's 13 points were a career-high. Lutz and Ritchay each scored 10 points in the opening half as UWSP built a 40-26 halftime lead.
After UW-Stevens Point led early 6-4, the Pointers went on an 11-0 run over a span of 3:08 to take a commanding 17-4 lead. Lutz and Ritchay combined for all 11 UWSP points during the spurt, while UW-Eau Claire (4-3, 0-1 WIAC) missed all three of its field-goal attempts.
The Blugolds used a 7-2 mini-run to get within 24-16 at the 6:35 mark of the opening half but that was as close as UWEC got the rest of the game. Adam Hjelter scored five quick points during the run and scored a game-high 19 points for UW-Eau Claire. UW-Stevens Point took a 14-point lead into the locker room after a first half in which the Pointers shot 61.5 percent (16-for-26) from the floor.
Hjelter hit back-to-back threes in the first 90 seconds of the second half to help the Blugolds trim the Pointers lead to 42-32. However, UWSP maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way despite UW-Eau Claire shooting 57.1 percent (12-for-21) in the second half. UW-Stevens Pint led by as many as 21 in the final eight minutes of the game.
The Pointers shot 53.7 percent (29-for-54) from the floor, including 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from behind the arc. UWSP committed just eight turnovers and outscored UWEC 19-4 in points off turnovers. The UW-Stevens Point bench outscored UW-Eau Claire's 27-9, led by Lutz's 13 and five points in two minutes from Bill Patterson (Alsip, IL/Mount Carmel).
UW-Stevens Point faces No. 4 UW-Whitewater in a battle of top-five teams for Gold Nite on Wednesday night. The Pointers and Warhawks tip-off at 7 p.m. at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse.