MJ Delmore led all players with a career-high-tying 23 points as UW-Stevens Point remained tied atop the WIAC men's basketball standings with a 77-70 victory over UW-Oshkosh in a battle of nationally ranked teams on Wednesday (Feb. 14) in Stevens Point.
UW-Stevens Point (17-7, 11-2 WIAC), ranked 19th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, reclaimed the lead for good at 6-4 with 17:13 left in the first half. The Pointers extended their advantage to 19-13 and led by at least five points for the remainder of the contest.
The Pointers, who won their 10th consecutive home game, avenged a 68-53 loss at UW-Oshkosh on Jan. 24. UW-Oshkosh had won its previous three games in Stevens Point.
UW-Stevens Point is tied for first place in the league standings with sixth-ranked UW-Platteville (21-3, 11-2 WIAC) with one game to play.
Nineteenth-ranked UW-Oshkosh (18-6, 8-5 WIAC) remains alone in third in the conference, one game ahead of defending champion UW-River Falls (16-7, 7-6) and two games clear of UW-Whitewater (16-8, 6-7).
Delmore shot 6-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and 8-for-8 at the free throw line on Wednesday.
Canon O'Heron added 16 points and a team-leading five rebounds for the Pointers, who also received 11 points off the bench from Mark Nelson and 10 points from starter Nate Dodge.
UW-Stevens Point concluded the contest with advantages in field goal (.521 to .424) 3-point (.450 to .391) and free throw (.818 to .733) percentages. The Pointers also held edges in steals (5-4) and blocks (2-0) while the Titans had a 32-31 lead in rebounds. Both teams had 14 assists and 10 turnovers.
The Pointers, who shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the 10th time this season, went 25-for-48 from the field, 9-for-20 from beyond the arc and 18-for-22 at the foul line.
The Titans shot 25-for-59 from the floor, 9-for-23 from 3-point range and 11-for-15 at the free throw line.
UW-Oshkosh, which owns a 4-3 record against nationally ranked opponents this season, went into the contest fifth in the country with a +9.5 average rebounding margin. The Titans also paced the conference in rebounds (39.4) and assists (14.3) per game, blocks (66) and free throw attempts (495).
Ben Boots led UW-Oshkosh with 21 points and matched his career high with eight assists. Boots, who shot 6-for-7 at the free throw line, went into the game pacing the WIAC with 4.2 assists per contest, a 2.23 assist-to-turnover ratio and a .853 free throw percentage.
UW-Oshkosh's Jack Flynn contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds for his team-leading seventh double-double of the season. He collected six boards on the offensive end after entering the game averaging a WIAC-high 3.6 offensive rebounds.
Adam Fravert, the league's leading rebounder at 7.6 per game, added 12 points and six rebounds for the Titans.
UW-Oshkosh scored four of the game's first six points before Delmore tied the score at 4 with a layup and O'Heron gave the Pointers their only lead at 6-4 with a basket in the paint.
Brett Tauber drove for a layup to extend UW-Stevens Point's advantage to 37-24 with 3:02 left in the first half, and the Pointers went into intermission with a 39-30 lead.
UW-Stevens Point built its largest lead of 15 points at 50-35 with 14:29 to play.
Trailing 58-47 with 6:40 left, UW-Oshkosh trimmed its deficit to 61-56 on a tip-in by Flynn at the 3:15 mark, but Delmore answered with a 3-pointer 22 seconds later that extended the UW-Stevens Point lead to 64-56.
Fravert hit a 3-pointer to pull the Titans within 66-61 with 91 seconds remaining. Nelson then split a pair of free throws for a 67-61 UW-Stevens Point advantage before UW-Oshkosh missed two 3-pointers and a free throw on its next possession.
O'Heron made two free throws to give UW-Stevens Point a 69-61 lead with 46 seconds left, and the Pointers, who shot 10-for-10 at the foul line during the final minute, led by at least five points the rest of the way.
UW-Oshkosh closes the regular season at UW-Stout on Saturday (Feb. 17).