Max Schebel blocked a potential game-tying 3-pointer as the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team hung on for a 63-60 victory over UW-Eau Claire in the regular-season finale on Saturday (Feb. 21) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh took a 61-58 lead on an Alex Olson jumper with 57 second remaining. On the ensuing possession, UW-Eau Claire's Jack Martinek missed a layup, grabbed the offensive rebound and misfired again from the paint with 42 seconds left.
Olson converted two free throws to put the Titans ahead, 63-58, with 33 second to go, but the Blugolds' George Diekelman cut their deficit to 63-60 with a layup on the other end. Olson missed two free throws with 23 seconds to play, setting up the final UW-Eau Claire possession.
Blugold Lewis Mau missed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, but the rebound was tipped out of bounds by UW-Oshkosh. Following a UW-Eau Claire timeout, Tyson Kalien attempted another game-tying 3-pointer from the left wing with three seconds left, but Schebel rejected the attempt into the hands of Kyle Bolger.
UW-Oshkosh (14-11, 8-8 WIAC), which won its fourth straight game over the Blugolds, will be the fifth seed for next week's WIAC Tournament. The Titans will travel to fourth-seed UW-Platteville for a 7 p.m. tip on Tuesday (Feb. 24). UW-Eau Claire (10-15, 6-10 WIAC) will be the tournament's sixth seed and play at third-seed UW-River Falls on Tuesday.
Olson led UW-Oshkosh with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field. Schebel added 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and five rebounds. Sean Dwyer and Taylor Jansen chipped in with eight points apiece. Jansen tied for the team high with five rebounds while Bolger paced the Titans with three assists.
UW-Oshkosh shot 48.9 percent (22-45) from the field, 28.6 percent (4-14) from behind the 3-point arc and 83.3 percent (15-18) from the foul line. The Titans committed 14 turnovers.
There were three ties and 10 lead changes during the first period. Olson tallied four of UW-Oshkosh's first six points as the Titans got out to a 6-2 lead, their largest of the half. The 10th lead change came on an offensive rebound and basket by Martin Cromwell that gave UW-Eau Claire a 20-19 edge with just over seven minutes left in the opening period.
The Blugolds took their largest lead of six points at 27-21 on a layup by Martinek at the 3:43 mark, but the Titans scored six of the last seven points of the half to cut their deficit to 28-27 at intermission.
The Titans reclaimed a 29-28 lead on a layup by Olson on their first possession of the second half, but the Blugolds answered with a layup by Mau 12 seconds later for a 30-29 advantage. A Jansen layup gave UW-Oshkosh a 33-32 lead at the 16:58 mark, but a basket by Martinek provided the game's 14th lead change at 34-33 with 15:33 left.
UW-Oshkosh tied the game at 47 on two free throws by Schebel with just under 10 minutes remaining before a Jansen layup changed the lead for the 15th and final time at 49-47 with 9:22 to play. UW-Eau Claire forged the ninth tie of the contest at 49 after two free throws by Diekelman with 7:39 left.
Dwyer converted two free throws for a 51-49 lead on the next possession, and the Titans led for the last 7:17 of the ballgame. Dwyer's free throws were the first of eight unanswered points by UW-Oshkosh. Schebel added two free throws and a layup while Olson had a layup during the run that gave the Titans its largest lead of eight points at 57-49 with a little over four minutes remaining.
UW-Eau Claire rattled off the next seven points to pull within 57-56, but two free throws by Olson gave UW-Oshkosh a 59-56 lead at the 2:19 mark. Jared Schneidermann's follow-up dunk off of a missed layup cut the Titans' lead to 59-58 before Olson's jumper with just under one minute remaining.
Martinek paced UW-Eau Claire with 16 points. Diekelman tied his career high with 14 points for the Blugolds, who also received 10 points and team-highs of six rebounds and two assists from Mau and 10 points from Kurtis Moody.
UW-Eau Claire shot 43.6 percent (24-55) from the floor, 76.9 (10-13) percent from the free throw line and held a 35-21 advantage in rebounds. The Blugolds, who entered the game with a WIAC-best 140 3-pointers and a .348 shooting percentage from beyond the 3-point arc, tied a season low with two 3-pointers and shot a season-worst 11.8 percent (2-17) from long range. UW-Eau Claire turned the basketball over 18 times.
UW-Oshkosh, which entered the game ranked second in the conference by allowing 62.2 points per game, has a 10-3 record when holding opponents to 60 points or fewer.