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Titans Pull Away From Scots In Closing Minutes

Jake Laihinen scored a season-high 12 points with the help of two 3-point baskets and 4 of 4 shooting from the free-throw line.
Jake Laihinen scored a season-high 12 points with the help of two 3-point baskets and 4 of 4 shooting from the free-throw line.

The UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team held Alma College (Mich.) to just two free throws in the last 3:32 and pulled out a 62-56 victory in Kolf Sports Center on Friday (Dec. 19).

Alma College's Tyler Edwards registered his only points of the contest on a three-point play that tied the score at 54 with 3:32 left, but UW-Oshkosh responded with a 3-point basket by Alex Olson on the next possession and a jumper by Taylor Jansen with one minute remaining to take a 59-54 lead.

Two free throws by the Scots' Chase Fairchild trimmed the Titans' advantage to 59-56 with 49 seconds left, but Olson iced the game by making 3 of 4 free throws in the last 29 seconds. Alma College missed its last four shots from the floor and committed two turnovers during the last three and a half minutes.

Olson led UW-Oshkosh (5-4) with 16 points, including 13 in the second half. AJ Mueller had 13 points and five rebounds. Jake Laihinen added a career-high 12 points off the bench.

The Titans shot 40.8 percent (20-49) from the field, including 38.1 percent (8-21) from behind the 3-point arc. UW-Oshkosh made 14 of 17 free throws for a .824 percentage. The Titans also held advantages in rebounds (29-25) and turnovers (12-18).

After the teams opened the game by trading 3-pointers, consecutive baskets by Mueller gave the Titans their largest first-half lead at 7-3 with 16:21 to play in the period.

Alma College made its next four shots from the floor, including two 3-point baskets by Fairchild, to take a 14-9 lead at the 14:27 mark.

UW-Oshkosh rallied to tie the score at 17 after two Laihinen free throws with just over 11 minutes left in the opening period, but the Scots scored eight straight points over the next six and a half minutes to reclaim a 25-17 lead.

Alma College built its largest advantages at 28-19 and 31-22 on two more Fairchild 3-pointers, the latter with 2:07 remaining in the half. Mueller answered with a long-range basket near the end of the period to cut the Titans' deficit to 31-25 at the break.

Fairchild ended the half with 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.

The Scots shot a blistering 57.1 percent (12-21) from the field during the first period, including 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) from 3-point range, but did not attempt a free throw.

The Titans were held to a .346 percentage (9-26) from the floor in the first half but connected on 38.5 percent (5-13) of their 3-pointers.

Trailing 34-27 with 19 minutes to play, UW-Oshkosh scored 10 straight points to reclaim a 37-34 lead with 15:22 left. Four Titans contributed points during the run that began with two free throws by Mueller and was capped by a Max Schebel layup.

The Scots' DJ Beckman drilled a 3-pointer for a 45-42 advantage with 9:21 to play, but the Titans retook a 52-51 lead on two free throws by Jansen at the 5:11 mark.

UW-Oshkosh built a 54-51 advantage on two Laihinen free throws before Edwards' layup and free throw with 3:32 remaining.

Alma College ended the game shooting 45.5 percent (20-44) from the floor, 50 percent (12-24) from 3-point range and 80 percent (4-5) from the foul line. The Scots (0-8) made just three baskets inside the 3-points arc during the second half.

Fairchild and DJ Beckman combined to make 10 3-point baskets to lead Alma College in scoring with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Beckman added a team-high six rebounds and two steals while Fairchild chipped in with five boards.

UW-Oshkosh hosts Calvin College (Mich.) on Saturday (Dec. 20) in Kolf Sports Center.