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UW-River Falls men's basketball team falls to Stout

February 7, 2022

Poor interior defense, sloppy possessions, and a barrage of threes from their opponent doomed the UW-River Falls Falcons Men’s Basketball (9-8) in their 83-100 defeat to the UW-Stout Blue Devils (13-6) on Jan. 26 at Page Arena. 

Entering the matchup, both teams were coming off of a loss and sitting near the bottom of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). The Blue Devils won their previous meeting against the Falcons in Menominee 81-74. 

The early stages of the game were marked by missed 3 pointers and careless throwaways in transition by both squads, particularly from the Falcons though. The home team shot a paltry 2-12 from beyond the arc in the first half. Rushed ball movement created opportunities for easy buckets for Stout throughout the game, but especially early on. The Blue Devils scored 24 points off of turnovers, over double the amount of River Falls, who tallied 11. 

Senior Guard Noah Hanson, the Falcon’s leading scorer averaging 19.1 points per game, finished with 25 points and got the Falcons going with early scoring and hustle plays. About halfway through the first half, Stout was protecting a two-possession lead they had established through plenty of high percentage looks in the paint. Back-to-back baskets from Sophomore Guard Regan Merritt forced a 17-17 tie, as he helped the Falcons hang around. Merritt provided a nice spark from the bench, shooting 6-9 on-field goals and finishing with 14 points. 

River Falls was also able to find success offensively down low, mainly through 6’ 8” Freshman Center Rodrick Payne, who scored 20 points and found himself at the charity stripe often. After another round of consecutive makes, River Falls found themselves down 6 just before halftime, but a buzzer-beater triple from Stout Sophomore Guard Lovell Williams brought the score at the break to 39-48 and doused any momentum the Falcons had built. 

The second half offered much sharper shooting, especially from distance. Unfortunately for the Falcons, while they went from ice cold to hot, the Blue Devils went from hot to scorching, hitting 10-16 of their 3-pointers following the break. The Falcons traded baskets well enough to cut the lead to 5, but that was as close as they would get in the second, with Stout running away late. 

Up next for the Falcons is a road game at UW-Eau Claire (10-10) on Feb. 2nd at 7 pm. The Falcons sit one game back from the Blue Golds in the WIAC standings, setting this game up as a nice opportunity for them to make up ground in the conference and break their now-two-game losing streak.

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