Falcons men’s basketball makes history at U.S. Bank Stadium
December 2, 2018
The UW-River Falls men’s basketball moved to 4-2 on the season after an 85-70 loss to the University of St. Thomas on Friday, Nov. 30. The Falcons played a neutral site game for the first time this season at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. For this historic game, UW–River Falls was selected to participate in the U.S. Bank Stadium Basketball Classic, its first ever basketball tournament.
Coming into the game both the Falcons and the Tommies found themselves on three-game win streaks, and this game would be played on likely the largest stage that these two teams will ever play on. It was set to be an instant classic for both college basketball programs.
The Tommies came out of the gate looking to push the pace and get out to an early lead. Six minutes into the game the Tommies led 12-7, with points coming from five different St. Thomas players. They looked to spread the wealth early and get everybody involved.
However, the Falcons went on a 9-2 run of their own, led by their two leading scorers Matt Keller and Julian Jackson who quickly got the Falcon’s back into the game and tied it up at 16-16 with 10 minutes to go in the first half. Juniors Jackson and Keller came into the game as the top two in scoring for the Falcons with just over 15 points per game.
After trading baskets for the next several minutes, a quick six points swing went in favor of St. Thomas with four minutes to go in the first half. Following a made three pointer by St. Thomas junior Tommy Anderson, the Falcon’s turned the ball over on the inbound pass which ended up in Anders Nelson’s hands. He took one dribble, stepped back, and hit a three pointer that gave St. Thomas a 6-0 run in 15 seconds of in-game time.
St. Thomas would add a few more points to its lead before the first half ended. Going into halftime St. Thomas led 40-30. UW–River Falls would finish the first 20 minutes of play shooting under 30 percent from the field, their worst first half shooting performance of the season.
The Falcons came into the game averaging almost 43 percent from the three-point line, compared to the Tommie’s who were averaging only 32 percent coming into the game. The three-point shot was the difference maker in the first half. The Falcons shot zero percent from deep, compared to the Tommies, who shot 53 percent.
Starting the second half, both teams played fast paced basketball and traded buckets keeping the lead around 10 points for the first eight minutes of play. With 10 minutes remaining in the second half the Falcon’s found themselves down 11 points. They went on a 6-0 run by hitting back-to-back threes. The first of the two coming from Nathan Macho Jr. and then 16 seconds later, Clay Seifert would get in on the action with a three-pointer of his own. That sequence cut the Tommies lead over the Falcon’s to five points.
St. Thomas would once again answer back, this time dealing what would be the finishing blow to the Falcons. St. Thomas would go on a 10-0 run pushing the lead up to a game high 15 points. The Falcons would make some small runs late in the second half led by Jackson and Keller however St. Thomas would hold on to win 85-70.
The Falcons defeat can be explained by the field goal percentages for the night. St. Thomas finished the game shooting an even 50 percent from the field, including 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Falcon’s finished the game shooting 31 percent from the floor and 16 percent from beyond the arc.
In a game on one of the largest stages that these two teams will ever play on, the Falcons couldn’t find the bottom of the basket, putting up their worst field goal percentage of the entire season by nearly 8 percent.
The Falcons will look to bounce back on Dec. 8 against Viterbo University at Don Page Arena. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m.