Ben Boots paced four Titan double-digit scorers with a game-high 17 points, including 14 in the second half, as UW-Oshkosh defeated defending WIAC champion UW-River Falls, 67-58, in a battle of nationally ranked men's basketball teams on Saturday (Jan. 13) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh (13-2, 3-1 WIAC), ranked 13th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, took the lead for good during a 23-3 scoring run that turned an 11-2 deficit into a 25-14 advantage with 6:34 remaining in the first half. The Titans, who held UW-River Falls to a season-low .323 field goal percentage, maintained a lead for the final 29:37 of the contest.
Seventh-ranked UW-River Falls (11-3, 2-2 WIAC) trailed, 48-30, with just under 15 minutes to play before cutting its deficit to 57-54 at the 3:46 mark.
UW-Oshkosh responded with the next five points, including a 3-pointer from Boots that increased the Titans' lead to 62-54 with 2:44 left. UW-River Falls then missed its next five field goal attempts while the Titans secured the victory by shooting 5-for-6 from the free throw line during the final 70 seconds.
Boots made 4 of 9 attempts from 3-point range while adding five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Boots entered the game leading the conference with 4.4 assists per game and a 2.65 assist-to-turnover ratio while Fravert was pacing the league with 18 blocks and 8.1 rebounds per contest.
UW-Oshkosh owned advantages in field goal percentage (.370 to .323), rebounds (43-37), assists (14-9) and blocks (6-3). The Titans were ranked third in the country with a +12.5 average rebounding margin while leading the WIAC in rebounds (41.9) and assists (15.6) per game.
The Titans shot 10-for-27 from beyond the 3-point arc, marking their second straight and five games overall this season with double-digit 3-point baskets. UW-Oshkosh, the WIAC leader in free throw attempts, connected on 17 of 21 (81 percent) attempts at the foul line, including 15 of 17 (88.2 percent) during the second half.
UW-River Falls made just 27.3 percent (9-33) of its attempts from the floor in the first half on the way to its worst shooting performance of the season. The Falcons shot just 3-for-15 (20 percent) from 3-point range.
Brennan Witt led UW-River Falls with 11 points.
Clay Siefert contributed nine points, five rebounds and four assists for the Falcons while UW-River Falls leading scorer Alex Herink, the reigning WIAC Player of the Year, was limited to a season-low seven points and 10 rebounds. Herink, who went into the game second in the league at 16.3 points per game, was held scoreless until the 12:05 mark of the second half.
UW-River Falls jumped out to an 11-2 lead as UW-Oshkosh missed nine of its first 10 shots from the field and committed three turnovers during the opening 6:55 of the game.
UW-Oshkosh's game-changing 23-3 scoring run began with a layup from Flynn with 13:04 left in the first half and ended with a 3-pointer by David Vlotho for a 25-14 Titan advantage at the 6:34 mark. Charlie Noone drilled a 3-pointer for a 15-14 UW-Oshkosh lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Fravert and Wittchow accounted for five points apiece while Flynn added four during the Titans 25-3 surge.
The Falcons shot 1-for-14 from the floor and committed six turnovers during a span of nine minutes until Austin Heidecker hit a pair of free throws to pull UW-River Falls within 25-15 with 4:55 left in the opening period. Heidecker scored all seven of the Falcons' points during a stretch of more than 12 minutes in the first half as UW-Oshkosh went into intermission with a 33-23 advantage.
Noone made three free throws to give UW-Oshkosh its largest lead at 48-30 with 14:45 remaining, but UW-River Falls answered with 24 of the next 33 points to cut its deficit to 57-54. Herink and Chris Laymon scored six and five points, respectively, during the Falcons' 24-9 scoring run that spanned nearly 11 minutes and included eight straight missed field goal attempts by the Titans.
Saturday's meeting was the first in which both UW-Oshkosh and UW-River Falls were nationally ranked since the D3hoops.com poll debuted during the 1999-2000 season.
UW-Oshkosh heads to UW-Platteville on Wednesday (Jan. 17).