Charlie Noone scored a career-high 15 points as UW-Oshkosh erased a second-half, double-digit deficit and stunned UW-Stevens Point, 50-47, in the semifinals of WIAC Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday (Feb. 26) in Stevens Point.
The second-seeded Pointers (21-5), led 39-29 with just under 14 minutes to play, but the fifth-seeded Titans closed the game on a 21-8 scoring run to snap a 15-game losing streak to UW-Stevens Point and advance to the WIAC Tournament championship game for the first time since winning the second of two straight titles in 2003.
UW-Oshkosh (16-11) plays top seed UW-Whitewater (23-3) on Saturday (Feb. 28) at 3 p.m. in Whitewater. The Warhawks, who shared the WIAC regular-season title with UW-Stevens Point, defeated sixth seed UW-Eau Claire (11-16), 82-60, on Thursday. The WIAC Tournament champion earns the league's automatic bid to the 62-team NCAA Division III Championship.
Noone, who entered the game with just 67 points on the season, made 3 of 5 3-point shots and 6 of 9 free throws to eclipse his previous career high of 10 points.
Kyle Bolger added 14 points for the Titans on 6 of 8 shooting from the field, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. Alex Olson had six points on two of UW-Oshkosh's season-high nine 3-pointers. Max Schebel chipped in six points and a game-high nine rebounds.
The Titans shot 40 percent (16-40) from the field, 45 percent (9-20) from beyond the 3-point arc and 69.2 percent (9-13) from the free throw line. UW-Oshkosh committed just seven turnovers against a UW-Stevens Point team that entered the contest ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com.
Sean Dwyer sparked UW-Oshkosh's comeback with a 3-pointer that cut the Titan deficit to 39-32 with 10:51 remaining. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Noone and Olson pulled UW-Oshkosh within 40-39, and a layup by Schebel gave the Titans a 45-44 lead with just over four minutes left.
Austin Ryf hit a 3-pointer from the left wing for a 47-45 UW-Stevens Point advantage with 2:36 remaining, but Olson answered with a 3-point bucket to give the Titans the lead for good at 48-47 with 73 seconds to go.
Pointer Joe Ritchay pulled down the rebound from Ryf's 3-point miss with 37 seconds left. Following a UW-Stevens Point timeout, Ritchay's jumper drew iron, and Schebel ripped down the rebound and was fouled with five seconds to go.
After a timeout by both teams, UW-Stevens Point had two fouls to give before the Titans were in the bonus situation. Noone then converted two free throws for the final points of the game with three seconds left as a 3-pointer by Pointer Stephen Pelkofer was off the mark at the horn.
UW-Stevens Point, which hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to defeat UW-Oshkosh, 69-66, in overtime on Jan. 24 in Stevens Point, had its eight-game winning streak snapped.
UW-Oshkosh took a 10-9 lead on a Bolger layup with just under 15 minutes to go in the opening period. The Titans built a 13-9 advantage on a 3-pointer by Noone and went ahead 20-16 when Noone converted a four-point play with 5:26 left in the half. The four-point leads were UW-Oshkosh's largest of the contest.
UW-Stevens Point's Jordan Lutz scored five straight points to give the Pointers a 24-22 lead, but a layup by Schebel with 50 seconds remaining in the period knotted the score at 24 at intermission.
A Bolger 3-pointer opened the scoring in the second half, but the Pointers erased their 27-24 deficit and electrified the crowd of 1,150 fans with a 15-2 run for a 39-29 lead at the 13:47 mark. UW-Stevens Point connected on 6 of 8 shots from the floor during the run, which included two 3-pointers and a three-point play.
The Titans missed nine of their first 11 shots of the second period before Dwyer's long-range basket started the comeback.
Ryf and Lutz paced UW-Stevens Point with 14 points apiece. The pair combined to make all six of the Pointers' six 3-point baskets. Richard added 10 points and six rebounds while Sean McGann had a team-high seven boards for the Pointers.
The Pointers shot 37 percent (17-46) from the floor, 37.5 percent (6-16) from behind the 3-point line and 87.5 percent (7-8) from the free throw line. UW-Stevens Point was held to a .320 (8-25) field goal percentage in the second half.
UW-Stevens Point, which committed double-digit turnovers (10) for the first time in 11 games, had a 31-23 advantage in rebounds. The Pointers entered the game leading the NCAA Division III with 8.1 turnovers per contest and are now 119-13 at home since 2007.
UW-Oshkosh has won two of its three previous appearances in the WIAC Tournament championship game. The Titans are also unbeaten in three WIAC Tournament contests against UW-Whitewater.
UW-Oshkosh is just the second fifth seed to make the WIAC Tournament final, joining the 2013 UW-Platteville squad that lost, 66-55, at UW-Whitewater in the championship.
Ranked second in the country, UW-Whitewater will be making its fourth straight and 10th overall appearance in the WIAC Tournament title game. The Warhawks won tournament crowns in 2006, 2008 and 2013.
UW-Whitewater defeated UW-Oshkosh by scores of 78-59 and 69-47 during the regular season.