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Road Victory Advances Titans In WIAC Tournament

Alex Olson scored in double-figures for the 21st time this season to lead the Titans to their first WIAC Tournament road win since 2004.
Alex Olson scored in double-figures for the 21st time this season to lead the Titans to their first WIAC Tournament road win since 2004.

Alex Olson had 17 points, including six on free throws in the last 38 seconds, to lead UW-Oshkosh to a 59-55 victory over UW-Platteville in the first round of the WIAC Men's Basketball Tournament on Tuesday (Feb. 24) in Platteville.

The fifth-seeded Titans held the fourth-seeded Pioneers to 32 percent (8-25) shooting from the floor in the second half. UW-Platteville made 50 percent (13-26) of its field goals in the first half, including a blistering 61.5 percent (8-13) from behind the 3-point arc.

The win marks the Titans' first in Platteville since 2007 and their first in the WIAC Tournament since 2009.

UW-Oshkosh (15-11) advances to play at second seed UW-Stevens Point (21-4) in the WIAC Tournament semifinals on Thursday (Feb. 26). The other semifinal features top seed UW-Whitewater (22-3) hosting sixth seed UW-Eau Claire (11-15), which upset third seed UW-River Falls (12-14), 81-79, in overtime on Tuesday. UW-Stevens Point is ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com while UW-Whitewater is ranked second.

Alex Olson scored 12 of his points in the second half and added a team-high four assists. He ended his 21st double-digit scoring effort of the season shooting 5 of 12 from the field and 6 of 7 from the free throw line.

AJ Mueller added 10 points and a team-best six rebounds for the Titans, who also received nine points from Kyle Bolger. Max Schebel chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and three blocks.

UW-Oshkosh ended the contest shooting 38.8 percent (19-49) from the field, 25 percent (5-20) from beyond the 3-point line and 72.7 percent (16-22) from the free throw line. The Titans also held advantages in rebounds (32-29) and turnovers (7-13).

UW-Oshkosh trailed 34-22 with less than a minute remaining in the first half, but Taylor Jansen's layup just before halftime and 3-pointer at the 16:50 mark of the second half bookended an 8-0 run that brought the Titans within 34-30.

UW-Platteville's Jake Manning responded with a basket 14 seconds later for a 36-30 Pioneer advantage, but UW-Oshkosh scored 11 unanswered points as part of a 20-8 run over the next 13 minutes to reclaim a 50-44 lead at the 4:11 mark.

The Pioneers missed 12 of their 15 shots from the field, including a string of seven straight, and committed five turnovers during UW-Oshkosh's run, which featured seven points by Schebel and four apiece by brothers Alex and Nick Olson.

A layup by Mueller tied the game at 44 with 7:08 left, and a layup by Schebel at the 5:39 mark gave the Titans their first lead since a 7-5 edge with just under 14 minutes remaining in the first period. Nick Olson capped the run with two free throws for a UW-Oshkosh 50-44 advantage.

Manning's three-point play cut UW-Oshkosh's lead to 52-49 with 1:47 left, but the Titans collected three offensive rebounds on their next possession and took more than one minute off the clock before Alex Olson drained two free throws for a 54-49 advantage with 38 seconds remaining.

Schebel recorded a steal as UW-Platteville attempted to get the ball in the lane, and two more free throws by Alex Olson gave the Titans their largest lead of seven points at 56-49 with 25 seconds to go.

UW-Platteville's Jim Stocki drained his sixth 3-pointer of the game to pull the Pioneers to within 56-52, but Alex Olson converted two more free throws to extend the Titan lead back to 58-52 with 16 seconds remaining.

The Pioneers tallied three points on their next possession after Matt Oesterich made the first of two free throws and Boston Johnson rebounded and scored off a miss on the second to cut their deficit to 58-55 with nine ticks left.

Bolger iced the game by making the second of two free throws for a 59-55 lead with seven seconds to go as Stocki's 3-pointer on the last UW-Platteville possession was off the mark.

UW-Platteville took a 10-7 lead on a 3-pointer by Wes Nemitz with 12:19 left in the first period. Stocki's second of four first-half 3-pointers in four attempts increased the Pioneers' lead to 17-7 at the 9:45 mark. Nemitz's second trey of the half gave UW-Platteville, which scored 24 of its 34 points in the first half on 3-pointers, a 34-22 advantage with 52 seconds to go before intermission.

Stocki paced the Pioneers with 22 points, including 16 in the first half. He added six rebounds and ended the game with six 3-pointers, the third most in WIAC Tournament history.

Manning chipped in 13 points and six rebounds for the Pioneers, who also received seven points and seven boards from Johnson. Oesterich contributed a game-high six assists.

UW-Platteville ended the game shooting 41.2 percent (21-51) from the field, 45.5 percent (10-22) from beyond the 3-point arc and 75 percent (3-4) from the foul line.

The win avenges UW-Oshkosh's two losses to the Pioneers during the regular season. The Pioneers won by scores of 52-47 on Dec. 10 in Platteville and 49-46 on Feb. 4 in Oshkosh.

UW-Oshkosh improved to 10-3 in first-round games of the WIAC Tournament. The Titans, who earned their first WIAC Tournament road victory since 2004, have won all three meetings with the Pioneers in the league's postseason event.