Titans Hand Pointers First WIAC Loss

David Vlotho totaled eight points and six rebounds during the Titans' win over league-leading UW-Stevens Point.
David Vlotho totaled eight points and six rebounds during the Titans' win over league-leading UW-Stevens Point.

Ben Boots and Adam Fravert led all players with 16 points apiece as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team handed UW-Stevens Point its first conference loss with a 68-53 decision on Wednesday (Jan. 24) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (14-4, 4-3 WIAC) finished the game with a 23-6 scoring run over the final nine minutes, including a string of 12 unanswered points that turned a 47-45 deficit into a 57-47 lead with 4:54 remaining. The Titans led by at least eight points during the last 5:24 of the contest.

UW-Stevens Point (12-6, 6-1 WIAC) remains atop the league standings – one game ahead of second-place UW-Platteville (15-3, 5-2) – with seven contests remaining.

UW-Oshkosh, ranked 19th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, is tied for third in the conference with eighth-ranked UW-Whitewater (14-4, 4-3 WIAC) and 20th-ranked UW-River Falls (13-4, 4-3).

Boots and Fravert both shot 7-for-12 from the field. Boots added a game-high four assists and four steals while Fravert had two blocks. Boots entered the game pacing the league with 4.1 assists per game, and Fravert increased his WIAC-leading total to 24 blocks on the year.

Brett Wittchow registered 10 points for UW-Oshkosh, which also received eight points and six rebounds off the bench from David Vlotho, and four points and a game-best nine rebounds from starter Jack Flynn.

UW-Oshkosh concluded the game with advantages in field goal (.481 to .404), 3-point (.409 to .350) and free throw (.700 to .000) percentages. UW-Stevens Point went 0-for-2 from the free throw line, marking the Pointers' first game without a made free throw since at least the 1997-98 season.

The Titans also owned edges of 37-27 in rebounds, 11-9 in assists, 13-12 in turnovers, 3-0 in blocks and 9-5 in steals. UW-Oshkosh out-rebounded the Pointers, 23-10, in the second half.

UW-Oshkosh went into the game fifth in the country in average rebounding margin (+10.7) while leading the conference in rebounds (41.1) and assists (14.9) per game, and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22).

Neither team led by more than six points during a first half that featured five lead changes. A layup by Boots gave UW-Oshkosh a 14-12 edge before the Titans matched their largest first-half advantage at 17-14 following a basket from Fravert with just under 10 minutes to play in the opening period.

UW-Stevens Point scored seven straight points, including five from Drew Fredrickson, to reclaim a 21-17 lead with 8:02 left in the first half. The Pointers went into intermission with a 32-29 advantage and maintained a lead from the 9:03 mark of the first half until UW-Oshkosh's Charlie Noone drained a 3-pointer to knot the score at 36 with 16:55 to play.

The Titans went on a 12-3 scoring run to take a 45-39 lead following a jumper by Fravert with 11:30 left, but the Pointers responded with eight unanswered points to retake a 47-45 advantage on a 3-pointer by Matt Koerner with 8:57 to play.

UW-Oshkosh began its game-changing 12-point run with a jumper from Sam Ebersold that tied the score at 47. Vlotho added a layup, Noone and Boots hit 3-pointers, and Boots lobbed a pass to Fravert, who punctuated the string of 12 straight points with a two-handed alley-oop dunk for a 57-47 lead with 4:54 to play.

The Titans went on to lead by as many as 17 points during the last minute as Boots drilled a 3-pointer for a 66-49 advantage with 51 seconds left, and Flynn converted a pair of free throws for a 68-51 lead with 28 seconds remaining.

Canon O'Heron led UW-Stevens Point with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. He scored 10 points during the second half and finished the game shooting 7-for-11 from the floor.

Mark Nelson chipped in 10 points off the UW-Stevens Point bench.

UW-Oshkosh has won four of its past six meetings with UW-Stevens Point. The teams split the season series last season as the Titans defeated the Pointers, 73-68, in Stevens Point, and the Pointers pulled out a 69-68 win in Oshkosh.

The Titans play at UW-River Falls on Saturday (Jan. 27).