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Eagles Survive Titans' Game-Ending Threat

Alex Olson scored all 20 of his points against the Eagles in the second half.
Alex Olson scored all 20 of his points against the Eagles in the second half.

UW-La Crosse withstood a late comeback attempt by the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team, including two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the last four seconds, and emerged with a 67-64 win on Wednesday (Feb. 11) in La Crosse.

UW-La Crosse led, 65-54, after Joe Sakovich's jumper with 6:47 to play, but the Titans stormed back with 10 unanswered points to pull within 65-64 with 30 seconds left. The Eagles' Skylar Cameron converted two free throws for a 67-64 score with 24 seconds remaining. UW-Oshkosh's Alex Olson missed a 3-pointer with four seconds to go and AJ Mueller a long-distance attempt at the buzzer after collecting the rebound of Olson's shot.

UW-Oshkosh's 10-point run began with baskets by Mueller and Kyle Bolger and ended with 3-pointers by Charlie Noone and Olson. UW-La Crosse missed four field goal attempts and committed four turnovers during the span of more than six minutes.

UW-La Crosse (11-12, 6-8 WIAC), which has won nine of the last 10 meetings with UW-Oshkosh, avenged a 67-61 overtime loss to the Titans on Jan. 21 in Oshkosh. The Eagles remained in sixth place in the league standings while UW-Oshkosh (12-10, 6-7 WIAC) stayed in fifth.

Sokovich led all players with a career-high 23 points. He made 11 of 16 shots from the field while totaling five rebounds and five blocks. UW-La Crosse also received 18 points and five rebounds from Cameron and 13 points and five rebounds from Cale Zuiker. Cameron (4-7) and Zuiker (3-5) combined to make 7 of 12 attempts from 3-point range. Connor DeBruin added four points, four rebounds and a game-high eight assists for the Eagles.

Olson paced UW-Oshkosh with 20 points, all in the second half. Olson made 7 of 13 shots from the floor, including 7 of 10 in the second half, to go along with a team-high four assists. Mueller, who led the Titans with six rebounds, scored 10 of his 11 points in the second period. Taylor Jansen added 10 points, all in the first period.

Trailing 11-9 with 15:42 left in the first period, UW-La Crosse tallied the next nine points behind five points from Zuiker and four from Sokovich for an 18-11 advantage at the 12:12 mark. Zuiker's 3-pointer gave the Eagles the lead for good at 14-11 with 14:11 remaining in the first half. UW-Oshkosh responded with the next four points and trim its deficit to 18-15 on baskets by Kyle Bolger and Jansen, who combined to score 13 of the Titans' first 18 points.

UW-La Crosse's lead was cut to 23-20 on a layup by Brett Linzmeier with just over seven minutes left before halftime, but the Eagles closed the period with a 15-4 run for a 38-24 advantage at the break. The Titans missed nine of its last 10 field goals of the period and ended the half shooting 31 percent (9-29) from the floor while UW-La Crosse connected on 15 of 28 shots (53.6 percent), including 5 of 9 (55.6 percent) on 3-point attempts.

The Eagles held their largest lead of 15 points on two occasions, including a 51-36 score after Cameron's fourth 3-pointer of the game with 14:35 to play. UW-Oshkosh went on a 13-6 run to cut its deficit to 57-49 on a layup by Mueller with 11:44 to go. A 3-pointer by Sean Dwyer pulled the Titans to within 61-54 with just over nine minutes remaining, but baskets by UW-La Crosse's Jared Staege and Sokovich pushed the Eagles' lead back to 65-54 at the 6:47 mark.

The Titans ended the game shooting 40.3 percent (25-62) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-19) from behind the 3-point line and 55.6 percent (5-9) from the charity stripe. UW-Oshkosh held advantages in turnovers (6-12) and steals (8-5), and both teams grabbed 31 rebounds. The Titans tied a season high for 3-pointers and established a season-low in turnovers.

The Eagles shot 54 percent (27-50) from the field, 50 percent (8-16) from beyond the 3-point arc and 71.4 percent (5-7) from the free throw line. UW-La Crosse blocked a season-high eight shots.

UW-Oshkosh returns home to face UW-Superior on Saturday (Feb. 14) in Kolf Sports Center. The Titans defeated the Yellowjackets, 61-54, on Jan. 3 in Superior.

Photo courtesy of Jim Lund