Ben Boots scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, Jack Flynn matched his career high with 16 points and the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team opened the season with a 74-68 victory over Benedictine University (Ill.) on Wednesday (Nov. 15) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh (1-0) ended the game with a 17-8 scoring run over the final five minutes. Boots connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Titans the lead for good at 63-60 with 4:25 remaining.
Benedictine University (0-1) closed to within 67-64 with 90 seconds to play, but a pair of free throws by Flynn extended the Titan advantage to 69-64 with 71 seconds left as the Titans secured the win by converting 11 of 15 free throws over the final 3:23.
The Eagles, who held a 33-30 lead at halftime, missed eight of their last 11 shots from the floor.
Boots shot 6-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. He also connected on six of his seven attempts from the free throw line while adding four rebounds and four assists.
Flynn made 5 of 10 shots from the floor and 6 of 9 attempts from the free throw line en route to matching his career-high point total established last season against Hope College (Mich.) in the Titans' appearance in the Division III Championship.
Brett Wittchow added 15 points for the Titans, who also received five points and a game-high 11 rebounds from Adam Fravert, and five points each from Kyle Beyak, Charlie Noone and David Vlotho. Flynn and Vlotho contributed seven rebounds apiece while Vlotho chipped in four assists.
UW-Oshkosh concluded the contest with advantages of 47-39 rebounds (47-39) and 15-9 in assists while Benedictine University outshot the Titans from the field (.426 to .349) and had edges of 7-4 in steals and 5-1 in blocks.
The Eagles shot just 13 percent (3-23) from 3-point range and 50 percent from the foul line (7-14). The Titans made 10 of 33 shots (30.3 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc and 20 of 26 (76.9 percent) from the free throw line.
Benedictine University and UW-Oshkosh have both appeared in the past two Division III tournaments. The Eagles, who reached the national championship game in 2016, won last year's meeting with UW-Oshkosh, 68-55, in Lisle, Ill.
UW-Oshkosh missed 15 of its first 20 shots from the floor on Wednesday but cut its deficit to 17-16 on a 3-pointer by Wittchow at the 9:09 mark of the first half. Wittchow's long-range jumper sparked a 10-2 scoring run that culminated on a 3-pointer by Vlotho for a 23-19 advantage.
Another 3-pointer by Wittchow extended the UW-Oshkosh lead to 30-26 with just under three minutes to play in the first half before Benedictine University closed out the opening period with the final seven points, including five by Kenny Bogus.
Benedictine University shot 44.1 percent (15-34) from the field during the first half while UW-Oshkosh went 10 of 36 (27.8 percent) from the floor, including 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) from 3-point range.
The Eagles extended their scoring run to 15 unanswered points by tallying the first eight of the second half. A 3-pointer by Brayden Olson capped the run as Benedictine University held the largest lead of the contest at 41-30 with 17:47 to play in the second half.
Trailing 44-34 with 15 minutes left, Boots and Beyak drilled consecutive 3-pointers to trim the Titan deficit to 44-40 at the 13:53 mark. A layup by Flynn pulled UW-Oshkosh within 50-47 before Boots' second 3-pointer of the half knotted the score at 50.
Back-to-back layups by Olson put the Eagles ahead, 56-52, with just under seven minutes remaining. A jumper by Bogus provided Benedictine University its last lead of the game at 60-57 with 5:12 left as Boots answered with his game-tying 3-pointer 17 second later.
After Boots' fourth 3-pointer of the second half gave UW-Oshkosh the lead for good, the Titans recorded each of their final 11 points at the free throw line.
Benedictine University's Bogus led all players with 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field. He also added six rebounds and a team-leading four assists.
Olson had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Eagles, who also received 10 points and seven rebounds from Eric Grygo.
Benedictine University ranked 22nd in the division last season with 86.2 points per game while UW-Oshkosh listed 17th nationally by allowing 65.4 points per contest.
UW-Oshkosh plays at St. Norbert College on Tuesday (Nov. 21).