MJ Delmore had a game-high 23 points to lead UW-Stevens Point to a 71-63 win over UW-Oshkosh in a battle of nationally ranked men's basketball teams during the WIAC Championship semifinals on Friday (Feb. 23) in Stevens Point.
UW-Stevens Point (18-8), ranked 23rd in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, never trailed after scoring five straight points during a stretch of nearly three minutes to reclaim a 54-49 lead with less than seven minutes to play.
Nineteenth-ranked UW-Oshkosh (20-7) pulled within 54-51 at the 6:47 mark, but the Pointers extended their advantage to 62-53 with 4:13 to go and 66-57 with 53 seconds remaining as the Titans shot 4-for-13 from the field and committed seven turnovers during the final nine minutes.
UW-Stevens Point, seeded second for the six-team WIAC Championship, advances to host fourth-seeded UW-River Falls (18-8) in the final on Sunday (Feb. 25). The Falcons earned their way to the league tournament championship game with a 71-66 decision at top-seeded and fifth-ranked UW-Platteville (22-4) on Friday.
UW-Oshkosh, which had its run of three straight WIAC Championship title game appearances snapped, will learn Monday afternoon whether it receives an at-large berth to the 64-team Division III Championship that begins March 2.
Delmore shot 5-for-8 from the floor, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and 10-for-10 at the free throw line.
Canon O'Hearn and Nate Dodge added 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Pointers, who are back in the WIAC Championship title game for the 10th time and first since 2014.
UW-Stevens Point outshot the Titans, .489 to .447 from the field, .476 to .333 from beyond the arc and .867 to .750 at the free throw line. The Pointers, who have won their last 11 home games, also held a 16-11 advantage in turnovers and an 8-7 edge in steals. UW-Stevens Point entered the game ranked fifth in the nation by shooting .411 from 3-point range.
UW-Oshkosh owned a 29-23 lead in rebounds while both teams recorded 13 assists and one block.
Charlie Noone paced four UW-Oshkosh double-digit scorers with 18 points. He shot 5-for-10 from 3-point range and converted each of his three free throws.
Ben Boots had 13 points and a game-high five assists for the Titans.
Flynn, who went 4-for-7 from the field, went into the game leading the conference with a .640 field goal percentage. Fravert had a league-leading 192 rebounds and 33 blocks.
UW-Oshkosh went into the contest ranked sixth nationally with a +9.1 average rebounding margin. The Titans also paced the conference with 14.5 assists per contest and a 1.18 assist-to-turnover ratio.
UW-Stevens Point took its first lead at 6-3 following a 3-pointer from Delmore less than three minutes into the game. Delmore then scored six straight points for the Pointers as they built the largest lead of the first half at 21-14 with 8:24 left before intermission.
The Titans reclaimed a 24-23 advantage on a 3-pointer by Noone. Tied at 28 with under a minute to play in the first half, Delmore drove for a layup that provided UW-Stevens Point a 30-28 edge at halftime.
Another 3-pointer by Noone gave UW-Oshkosh its final lead at 44-43 with 11:27 remaining.
Tied for the seventh and final time at 49 with 9:36 left, UW-Stevens Point's O'Hearn scored a basket in the paint, Matt Koerner added a 3-pointer for a 54-49 lead, and the Pointers led by at least three points for the final 8:21.
Boots sank a pair of free throws to cut the Titans' deficit to 54-51 before Dodge buried a 3-pointer for a 57-51 UW-Stevens Point advantage with six minutes to play. UW-Oshkosh never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
UW-Oshkosh and UW-Stevens Point split two meetings during the regular season. The Titans defeated the Pointers, 68-53, on Jan. 24 in Oshkosh while UW-Stevens Point evened the season series with a 77-70 home win on Feb. 14.
UW-Stevens Point has won four of its six matchups with UW-Oshkosh in the WIAC Championship. The Pointers also eliminated the Titans during the semifinal round in 2004, 2005 and 2009. UW-Oshkosh ousted UW-Stevens Point from the league semifinals in 2003 and 2015.
The Titans own a 20-13 record in 16 WIAC Championship appearances. UW-Oshkosh won conference tournament titles in 2002, 2003 and 2016.
Photo courtesy of Kylie Bridenhagen, UW-Stevens Point Sports Information