When Hamline men's basketball team sprinted to a 13-0 lead over Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the first 5 1/2 minutes of play, it was logical to assume the Pipers were on their way to their first 2-0 start since 2002.
That turned out to be the case but the eventual 84-78 had some detours along the way.
Dior Ford (pictured) scored 21 points and Tyler Pannell added 14 -- all in the second half -- as the Pipers held off the Blugolds.(Pannell hit three three-pointers to move into a tie for fifth place on the all-time Hamline list with 93.)
But it wasn't easy.
The Pipers started very fast, sprinting to a 29-7 cushion with eight minutes left in the first half. But the Blugolds (1-2) began to gnaw away and, by halftime, the margin was 33-26.
HU stayed ahead most of the second half but the Blugolds, led by Nick Craggs, who scored 26 points, finally grabbed a 67-66 lead with 5:22 to play. Noah Aguirre hit two free throws that put HU back ahead and they stayed there until WEC tied it up at 76 and later at 78.
Aguirre then hit a monster three-pointer with 18 seconds left to break the tie and give Hamline the lead for good. Later, Victor Easter hit one free throw and Pannell added a pair to finally salt the game away. HU shot 56 percent for the game (31-54) and was 7-for-14 from three-point range.
Hamline will look to make it three in a row (something they also did in 2002) when they play at Northwestern (MN) Saturday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
Wisconsin-Eau Claire boxscore