Charlie Noone led all players with 23 points and Ben Boots added 15 points and a career-best seven assists as UW-Oshkosh earned a share of second place in the WIAC men's basketball standings with a 73-55 victory over UW-Stout in the regular season finale for both teams on Saturday (Feb. 18) in Menomonie.
The Titans made 14 of 25 attempts (58.3 percent) from 3-point range and outshot UW-Stout, 54.2 (26-48) to 36.8 (21-57) percent from the field, on the way to avenging a 74-67 loss to the Blue Devils on Jan. 7 in Oshkosh. UW-Oshkosh, which has made at least 11 3-pointers in seven games this season, led by at least 10 points for the final 12:47 of the contest.
With its win over UW-Stout (13-12, 4-10 WIAC), UW-Oshkosh (16-9, 9-5) clinched the second seed and a first-round bye for next week's WIAC Championship. The Titans have finished second in the WIAC's regular season standings the past two years, marking the program's best conference finish in consecutive seasons since placing second during both of the 1998 and 1999 campaigns.
UW-Oshkosh, which won each of its seven conference road games this season, shared second place in the league standings with UW-Whitewater (20-5, 9-5 WIAC). However, the Titans captured the league's postseason tiebreaker for the second seed by virtue of their split in the two-game season series with UW-Whitewater and a victory over conference champion UW-River Falls while UW-Whitewater lost both games to the Falcons.
UW-River Falls (22-3, 12-2 WIAC) is the top seed for the six-team WIAC Championship and will host the lowest remaining seed while UW-Oshkosh, the defending WIAC tournament champion, hosts the highest remaining seed during the semifinal round on Thursday (Feb. 23).
First-round matchups of the WIAC Championship will be held Tuesday (Feb. 21). The contests feature third-seeded UW-Whitewater hosting sixth-seeded UW-Stout and fourth-seeded UW-Eau Claire (18-7, 8-6) entertaining fifth-seeded UW-La Crosse (13-12, 5-9).
Semifinal winners will meet on Saturday (Feb. 25) for the WIAC's automatic berth into the 64-team NCAA Division III Championship.
In UW-Oshkosh's victory on Saturday, Noone and Boots combined to shoot 12 of 17 from the floor, including 10 of 14 from 3-point territory, as the Titans defeated the Blue Devils for the fifth time in the last six meetings.
Noone finished one point shy of his career high by connecting on 8 of 11 shots from the floor, including 7 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc. Noone, who entered the game with a WIAC-leading 66 3-pointers, added four rebounds and three assists while matching his career high in 3-point field goals.
Boots shot 4-for-6 from the field, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and converted each of his four attempts from the free throw line.
Max Schebel contributed nine points and 10 rebounds for the Titans, who also received eight points off the bench from Jack Flynn and five points, four rebounds and five assists from starter Brett Wittchow.
Noone, who led UW-Oshkosh in scoring for the 11th time this season, drained a 3-point shot on the game's opening possession, and the Titans maintained a lead until UW-Stout's Braden Walbeck hit a 3-point basket for an 11-9 Blue Devil advantage with 11:46 left in the first half.
Tied at 21, Boots knocked down a pair of free throws to give UW-Oshkosh the lead for good at 23-21 with 6:13 left in the opening half. The Titans extended their advantage to 34-23 on a 3-pointer from Adam Fravert and went into intermission with a 37-31 lead.
UW-Oshkosh led by at least six points the entire second half, building its largest advantage of 20 points at 73-53 on a layup by Schebel with 74 seconds to play. The Titans went on an 8-1 scoring run to extend their lead to 60-43 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
The Titans shot 56 percent (14-25) from the field during the first half, including 58.3 percent (7-12) from 3-point range. During the second period, the Blue Devils were limited to 32.1 percent (9-28) shooting and were outrebounded, 22-11.
John Lahti paced UW-Stout with 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field. John Keefe added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Blue Devils while Walbeck chipped in 10 points off the bench.
UW-Oshkosh improved its road record to 10-3 on the season, including nine straight victories away from home since a loss at Augustana College (Ill.) on Nov. 30.
Photo courtesy of Kyleah Rusch, UW-Stout Sports Information