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Titans Oust Defending WIAC Champion

Titans Oust Defending WIAC Champion

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.

Jack Flynn had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Titans, who also received 12 points and five assists from Brett Wittchow, and 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks from Adam Fravert.

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).