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Men’s basketball team looks back on successful season

March 4, 2015

After a difficult, late-season run in the WIAC, the UW-River Falls men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end, but saw a major improvement overall from previous seasons.

The improvement in the always tough WIAC is great for the Falcons. Last season the Falcons went 3-13 in conference, which was improved to a 10-6 record in conference this season.

“Winning games in our conference isn’t easy,” said Head Coach Jeff Berkhoff. “To go 10-6 in the league is a super, super job by the guys.”

While conference play for the Falcons was great, the non-conference schedule was not. The Falcons went 2-8 in non-conference games. The non-conference games to start the season didn’t let the Falcons fly early as it sputtered to a 2-5 start.

A three-game conference stint stopped the losing for the Falcons with UWRF winning its first three conference matchups.

“When we came in together, nobody really knew how to play with each other,” said junior forward Jon Christensen. “It’s kind of like open-gym basketball–nobody really knew what was going on and we started practicing more and more, and once the season rolled around we all kind of figured it out. We had a tough start to the season, but then once we hit conference play we took off running from there.”

Christensen, a transfer from St. Cloud State University, proved to be pivotal for the Falcons this season. Christensen lead the team in points, rebounds and was second in assists while starting every game this season.

Right behind him in points and leading the team in assists was sophomore point guard Grant Erickson.

“It was just a full group-effort from the assistant coaches to the head coach to the transfers to the returners to the freshman, we just put it all together and figured it out and had a really good season,” Erickson said. “We are looking forward to next season, because we have a lot of these guys coming back and that’s our main focus now.”

The Falcons had no seniors on the team this season. Nine juniors are currently listed on the roster. The team expects a lot of players to return next season and expects another excellent season.

“I’d assume everyone is pretty excited about what our future is, obviously we want to add some pieces to the puzzle, but I think the future is bright for Falcon basketball, not only for next year, but the years ahead,” Berkhoff said.

The Falcons season was cut short this season due to an overtime loss in the first round of the WIAC playoffs. UWRF hosted a first round game and played UW-Eau Claire, a team the Falcons had beat twice in the regular season, including less than a week before by a score of 80-71.

Some clutch free throws combined with a last second missed three-pointer from Erickson, advanced Eau Claire to the second round of the WIAC tournament and closed the book on the Falcons’ season.

Overall, the Falcons finished with a 12-14 record. The Falcons had an amazing home record to hang its hats on, finishing with a 7-3 mark at home including a 6-2 mark in WIAC games played in the Karges Center.

The Falcons drew 3,186 fans this season, 145 more fans than a season ago. Just another improvement for the up-and-coming Falcons.