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.
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.