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Eagles Come Back To Defeat Titans

Andy Merklein made a game-tying three-point play and converted two other key shots as UW-La Crosse came from behind to defeat the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team, 68-65, on Wednesday (Feb. 10) in La Crosse.

The Eagles (15-8/7-7 WIAC) were down, 53-47, with 5:50 left before making their run. Trevor Stratton drilled a jumper and drew a foul, as did Merklein to equal the score at 55 with 4:14 to play. Stratton then tacked on a fast-break lay-up to go ahead, 59-55. UW-La Crosse finished the game by making its final eight shots.

Merklein buried another jump shot to make it 63-59, but UW-Oshkosh's Greg Schrimpf (So. • Manitowoc) cut the lead to one with a three-pointer. A Merklein lay-up put the Eagles up three (65-62), and Schrimpf's attempt to tie the game at the horn was unsuccessful.

UW-La Crosse took a 5-4 lead during the game's opening minutes on a Tony Mane jumper. The Titans (9-13/4-10 WIAC) rallied with 10 of the next 11 points, including four apiece by John Flanigan (So. • Oshkosh) and D.J. Marsh (Sr. • Bayside). Cory Wittwer (Jr. • Fall Creek) knocked down a pair of free throws to go up, 14-6, with 13 minutes on the clock.

Al Chery posted a jump shot and a dunk to pull the Eagles back within three (17-14). Wittwer then responded with a triple and two jumpers before Marsh dropped in a bucket to make it 29-16 with 4:29 to play in the first half.

Marsh tacked on a three-pointer and another jumper at the buzzer for a 34-28 halftime lead. UW-Oshkosh drained five of its first seven shots to open the contest, while Flanigan shot 4-of-4 and Wittwer 3-of-3 during the opening 20 minutes.

Brian Washington (Fr. • Waukesha) got things going in the second period with a three-point play to up the advantage to seven (37-30). Mane answered with a bucket and free throw of his own before knocking down a jump shot, cutting UW-La Crosse's deficit to 41-35 with 13:43 remaining.

Marsh took over midway through the closing period with eight straight Titan points. He nailed a long-range dagger in addition to two jumpers. Marsh's free throw with 10:57 left put UW-Oshkosh ahead, 49-39.

Mane connected on two three-point baskets to pull within 51-45 at the 8:50 mark. UW-Oshkosh got its lead back to 53-47 on a Flanigan jump shot before the Eagles came back and took the game.

Leading scorers in the contest were Mane with 23 points and Marsh with 22. Flanigan and Wittwer added 14 points each for the Titans, while Merklein contributed 13 points and seven rebounds for UW-La Crosse. UW-Oshkosh also received six rebounds from Washington and five assists from Marsh.

The Titans completed the game with 45.6 percent shooting (26-57) from the field, including 6-of-21 connections behind the three-point arc (28.6 percent). UW-Oshkosh added 7-of-9 accuracy on free throws (77.8 percent) as it notched a 35-27 rebounding margin.

UW-La Crosse hit 48.2 percent of its shots (27-56), in addition to making 4-of-11 long-range attempts (36.4 percent) and of 10-of-13 free throws (76.9 percent). The Eagles committed just seven turnovers on the night, while UW-Oshkosh totaled 12.

The Titans return home to face UW-Superior on Saturday (Feb. 13).