Ben Boots scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the second half as the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team secured a 61-55 win at UW-La Crosse on Wednesday (Jan. 25).
UW-Oshkosh (11-7, 4-3 WIAC), which won its sixth straight road game, had its highest-scoring second half of the season after trailing, 20-16, at intermission. The Titans took the lead for good with 16:07 to play before building a 45-32 advantage with just over 11 minutes left.
UW-La Crosse (10-8, 2-5 WIAC) trimmed its deficit to 57-55 with 22 seconds to go, but the Eagles missed a potential game-tying layup with 11 seconds remaining. Boots made all four of his free throws over the final seven seconds to preserve the Titans' third straight victory over the defending WIAC champion Eagles.
UW-Oshkosh, which entered the contest with a WIAC-leading 65.6 points allowed per game, held UW-La Crosse to its lowest scoring output of the season.
Boots connected on 4 of 7 shots from the floor, including 3 of 5 from 3-point territory, and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
Boots, Noone and Vlotho all drained three 3-pointers while UW-La Crosse shot just 2-for-7 (.286) from long range.
UW-Oshkosh owned slim advantages in rebounds (35-33) and assists (10-7). Both teams shot 23.1 percent (6-26) from the field during the first half and 57.7 percent (15-26) in the second.
UW-La Crosse scored the first four points of the game before a three-point play from Schebel put UW-Oshkosh on the scoreboard three minutes into the action. The Eagles opened their largest lead of seven points at 20-13 late in the first half, but Boots drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Titans within 20-16 at intermission.
Both squads had six-minute scoreless droughts in the opening half. The Eagles maintained an 11-9 lead for more than four minutes until UW-La Crosse's Zach Schradle sank a pair of free throws to extend the advantage to 13-9 with 4:25 to go in the first period.
UW-Oshkosh scored baskets on six consecutive possessions early in the second half to claim a 30-27 lead. Schebel made three shots from the floor during the Titans' 14-7 scoring run while Brett Wittchow drove for a layup to give UW-Oshkosh its first lead at 27-25. Vlotho, who made all three of his 3-point attempts, knocked down a long-range jumper to give the Titans the lead for the final time at 30-27 with 16:07 left.
Another 3-pointer by Vlotho increased UW-Oshkosh's advantage to 40-30 as UW-La Crosse opened the second half shooting 3-for-10 from the field.
The Titans built their largest lead of 13 points at 45-32 on a 3-pointer by Boots at the 11:18 mark, but the Eagles pulled within 54-51 on a basket by Kenny Finco with 82 seconds left.
Noone answered with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to increase the UW-Oshkosh advantage to 57-51 with 53 seconds to play before consecutive layups by Ben Meinholz and Ryan Kruser cut UW-La Crosse's deficit to 57-55 with 22 ticks remaining.
Wittchow missed the front end of a 1-and-1 bonus free throw with 19 seconds to go, but Meinholz missed a layup. Boots was fouled after collecting the rebound and he buried both free throws to make the score 59-55 with seven seconds left.
Schebel recorded a steal two seconds later, and Boots knocked down two more free throws to create the game's final score.
Schradle had 14 points, 13 rebounds and three steals to lead the Eagles, who received just three points and three rebounds from their reserves. Schradle went into the game leading the WIAC with 9.1 rebounds per game.
The Eagles also received 13 points from Meinholz, 10 from Finco 10 and nine from Kruser.
UW-Oshkosh hosts 17th-ranked UW-Eau Claire (14-4, 4-3 WIAC) on Saturday (Jan. 28) in Kolf Sports Center. The Titans defeated the Blugolds (then 10th ranked) by a 70-62 score on Jan. 14 in Eau Claire.
Photo courtesy of Jim Lund, Crescent Printing & Promotions