Blugolds Erase Double-Digit Deficit To Defeat Titans

Jack Flynn scored 12 points while totaling eight rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots against the Blugolds.
Jack Flynn scored 12 points while totaling eight rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots against the Blugolds.

George Diekelman had a season-high 24 points to lift UW-Eau Claire to a 60-57 victory over the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team on Saturday (Jan. 20) in Eau Claire.

UW-Eau Claire (9-8, 1-5 WIAC) erased a 13-point, second-half deficit by limiting UW-Oshkosh to 24 percent (6-25) shooting during the final period. The Blugolds trailed, 42-29, with 19 minutes to play before tying the score at 48 at the 6:03 mark.

The Blugolds reclaimed a 50-48 advantage – their first since leading, 2-0, in the game's opening minute – on a layup by Clay Kujawa with 3:52 remaining. UW-Eau Claire then took the lead for good at 52-50 following another Kujawa layup at the 3:23 mark.

After a missed free throw by UW-Oshkosh, Sean Miller knocked down two shots at the foul line to extend the Blugolds' lead to 54-50 with 2:43 to play.

UW-Oshkosh (13-4, 3-3 WIAC), ranked sixth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, misfired on a 3-pointer and had a shot blocked in the lane on their next two possessions while Diekelman and Kujawa both split a pair of free throws to increase the UW-Eau Claire advantage to 56-50 with 80 seconds left.

The Titans' Ben Boots converted two free throws and hit a 3-pointer following a steal by Charlie Noone to cut UW-Oshkosh's deficit to 56-55 with 54 seconds remaining.

Chris Duff made a pair of free throws for a 58-55 Blugold lead, but Jack Flynn answered with a layup to pull UW-Oshkosh within 58-57 with 10 seconds left.

Diekelman provided the final score with a pair of free throws as Boots' contested 3-pointer from 30 feet out fell short at the buzzer.

UW-Eau Claire, which had made 18 free throws over its previous four games, shot 20-for-25 (80 percent) at the foul line. Diekelman, who added six rebounds, went 12-for-15 at the free throw line.

The Blugolds concluded the contest with advantages in field goal percentage (.435 to .392) and turnovers (16-14) while UW-Oshkosh had edges in rebounds (33-30), assists (12-7) and blocks (3-2). The Titans went into the game third in the country with a +11.2 rebounding margin.

UW-Eau Claire missed all six of its attempts from 3-point range, snapping its streak of 250 consecutive games with at least one made 3-pointer. The Blugolds' last game without a 3-point basket was Dec. 8, 2007, when they went 0-for-10 from beyond the arc against UW-La Crosse.

Kujawa and Miller had 14 and 10 points, respectively, while tying for the team lead with six rebounds apiece off the UW-Eau Claire bench.

UW-Eau Claire's Chris Duff, who entered with a WIAC-leading 16.4 points per game, was limited to six points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field.

Adam Fravert paced UW-Oshkosh with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.

Boots and Flynn registered 12 points apiece for the Titans, who also received four points and a game-high six assists from Noone.

UW-Oshkosh scored nine straight points to take a 9-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish until late in the second half. Boots hit a 3-pointer to increase the Titans' advantage to 18-6 with 11:38 left in the first half. A pair of free throws from Noone provided UW-Oshkosh its largest lead of the first half at 27-14 with 6:31 remaining before taking a 38-29 advantage into intermission.

Fravert and Brett Wittchow opened the second half with back-to-back jumpers that extended the Titan lead to 42-29 with 19:04 left, and a 3-pointer from Sam Ebersold provided UW-Oshkosh a 47-35 advantage with 14:07 to play.

Ebersold's long-range basket was the Titans' only field goal during a stretch of more than 13 minutes as UW-Oshkosh missed 14 consecutive shots from the floor until Boots' 3-pointer made the score 56-55 with under a minute left.

UW-Eau Claire had lost four straight games to the Titans and eight of the previous nine matchups in the series.

UW-Oshkosh returns home to face UW-Stevens Point on Wednesday (Jan. 24) in Kolf Sports Center. The contest concludes the first round of the Titans' 14-game WIAC schedule.