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Falcons Increase WIAC Lead With Win Over Titans

David Vlotho scored a career-high eight points and tallied one assist against the Falcons.
David Vlotho scored a career-high eight points and tallied one assist against the Falcons.

Nationally ranked UW-River Falls secured a 79-57 win over the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team as Garret Pearson and Alex Herink both notched double-doubles and Devin Buckley added 17 points on Saturday (Jan. 21) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-River Falls (16-1, 6-0 WIAC), ranked fifth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, scored 13 unanswered points during the second half to increase its lead over UW-Oshkosh to 60-41 with 10 minutes left. The Falcons now own a three-game advantage in the conference standings with eight contests remaining.

UW-Oshkosh (10-7, 3-3 WIAC) suffered its fourth straight home loss and is among five teams tied for second place in the race for the WIAC title.

Pearson led all players with 22 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four assists. He made 9 of 19 shots from the floor and both attempts from the free throw line. Pearson, who earned his second straight double-double, compiled 17 points and six rebounds during the first half.

Herink contributed 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the year.

Buckley shot 6-for-8 from the floor on the way to his third straight and 10th overall double-digit scoring performance of the season.

UW-River Falls concluded the game with significant advantages in field goal percentage (.483 to .379), 3-point percentage (.375 to .278), free throw percentage (.857 to .444), rebounds (41-31) and assists (19-7).

UW-Oshkosh entered the contest leading the WIAC with a .794 free throw percentage while UW-River Falls paced the league with a +6.9 rebounding margin.

UW-River Falls took the lead for good at 5-2 on a 3-pointer by Clay Seifert with 17:35 left in the opening period. The Falcons scored seven straight points to extend their advantage to 21-10 with just over eight minutes to play in the first half and went into intermission with a 39-24 lead.

UW-Oshkosh converted just two of its first 15 shots from the floor while UW-River Falls opened the game 2-for-9 from the field as the Falcons clung to a 16-10 lead midway through the first half.

UW-River Falls responded to its slow start by making 10 of 14 field goal attempts during a span of just over seven minutes to take a 34-19 lead with 4:18 remaining in the opening half. Pearson contributed 11 points during the Falcons' 24-13 scoring run.

The Falcons outshot the Titans, .483 to .290, from the floor during the first half.

UW-Oshkosh began the second period with a 15-6 scoring run to pull within 47-41 with 14:19 to play. The Falcons owned a lead of at least 10 points for more than 12 minutes until UW-Oshkosh's Ben Boots drove for a layup to cut the Titan deficit to 47-38. David Vlotho then hit a 3-pointer on the following possession to get the Titans within six points.

Trailing 47-41 with 12 minutes remaining, Boots was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer but missed all three attempts at the foul line. Boots entered the game leading the WIAC with a .915 (54-59) free throw percentage.

Buckley drove to the basket for a 49-41 UW-River Falls lead, sparking a string of 13 unanswered points that culminated in a 60-41 advantage with 10 minutes to play. The Falcons made all six of their shots from the floor during their decisive 13-point run that featured six points from Buckley and four from Herink.

UW-River Falls built its largest lead of 25 points at 79-54 on a layup by Julian Jackson with one minute left.

Brett Wittchow paced UW-Oshkosh with nine points. Taylor Jansen and David Vlotho had eight points apiece for the Titans, who also received seven points from Max Schebel and seven points and a team-leading six rebounds from Jack Flynn.

Last season, the Titans won two of their three meetings with the Falcons, including a 66-63 decision in the WIAC Tournament final.

UW-Oshkosh travels to defending WIAC champion UW-La Crosse on Wednesday (Jan. 25).