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The UW-Baraboo/Sauk County men’s basketball team was in a funk on Saturday when the Fighting Spirits hosted UW-Fond du Lac.

The Spirits were without starting guards Christian Webb and Khaleel Riley, which forced the team to switch some things around. UW-BSC stuck with the Falcons throughout the first half, but fell in a hole it couldn’t get out of in the second and the Spirits fell 91-67 in a non-conference game.

“It was a tough loss for the Spirits,” UW-Baraboo coach Scott Gilbeck said. “So we had to change some roles obviously. When you put people in different roles, they’re not necessarily comfortable.”

UW-Baraboo seemed to play from behind for most of the game, despite a respectable first half of play. Matthew Pauley, who led the Spirits with 24 points on the day, knocked down a few 3-pointers in the first half to keep his team in it, as the Spirits trailed 40-38 at halftime.

“The first half of the game our offensive flow was going really well,” Gilbeck said. “Matthew Pauley was hitting some great shots, but we didn’t adjust too well to their 2-3 (zone).”

The Falcons (1-9) quickly pulled away to start the second half, going on an 8-0 run as turnovers and foul trouble started to haunt the Spirits. UW-Baraboo struggled to find and finish looks on the inside, which led to numerous 3-point attempts. The Spirits went 10-for-27 from outside the arc, with Pauley hitting a couple while Hudson Barsness knocked down three of his own.

UW-Fond du Lac put together an efficient offense with DeAndre Ross driving to the hoop on several occasions while Lucius Mentor III was hot from the outside, hitting three 3-pointers in the second half.

“He was definitely the X-factor,” Gilbeck said of Mentor. “Also No. 13 (Ross), their point guard. Those two we knew would make some shots. And I feel like with Christian and Khaleel, they would have matched up with (Ross), which would have put somebody else on (Mentor) and so forth.”

Gilbeck said Webb and Riley, both freshmen from Racine, were absent due to “travel issues with winter break.”

UW-Baraboo was able to shorten its deficit to 73-63, but the Falcons finished the game with an 18-4 run to grab their first win of the year. Behind Pauley, Barsness recorded 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists, while John Franklin added 11 points and four rebounds. The Fighting Spirits dropped to 4-5 overall and will look to bounce back at UW-Sheboygan on Wednesday.

“That’s going to be a tough matchup,” GIlbeck said. “They have two players that are over 6-foot-10. But you’ve got to learn and go forward and just get after it.”

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Regional Sports Reporter