Boots Shoots Titans To Season-Opening Victory

Ben Boots' career-high 28 points against the Tigers included 5-of-6 shooting behind the 3-point line.
Ben Boots' career-high 28 points against the Tigers included 5-of-6 shooting behind the 3-point line.

Ben Boots had a career-high 28 points and six rebounds to lead the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team to an 88-70 season-opening victory over Iowa Wesleyan University at the Buzz Levick Tournament on Friday (Nov. 18) in Waverly, Iowa.

Boots connected on 10 of 14 shots from the floor and 3 of 4 attempts from the free throw line. He went 5-for-6 from 3-point range as UW-Oshkosh knocked down 13 of 18 shots (72.2 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. Boots eclipsed his previous high of 27 points established against UW-Platteville last season.

UW-Oshkosh (1-0), ranked 21st in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, finished the game shooting 52.7 percent (29-55) from the floor and 70.8 percent (17-24) from the free throw line.

The Titans' point total was the program's highest in a season opener since tallying 94 in a win over St. Norbert College on Nov. 26, 2002.

AJ Mueller added 11 points for the Titans, who also received 10 points and a team-high four assists from Brett Wittchow and nine points each from Sean Dwyer, Taylor Jansen and Charlie Noone. Dwyer converted 3 of 4 3-point attempts, Noone made all three of his shots from long range and Jansen pulled down six rebounds.

UW-Oshkosh held a 48-33 lead at intermission and outscored Iowa Wesleyan University (0-2) during the second half despite the Tigers shooting 57.7 percent (15-26) in the final period.

The Titans concluded the game with advantages in rebounds (33-26), assists (13-6), blocks (1-0) and steals (4-3).

Iowa Wesleyan University made 49.1 percent (26-53) of its attempts from the field, including 37.5 percent (6-16) from 3-point range, and 70.6 percent (12-17) of its shots at the free throw line.

UW-Oshkosh took the lead for good at 15-12 on a 3-pointer by Dwyer that sparked a 23-10 scoring run in the span of less than six minutes. Noone followed with a 3-pointer and another long-range jumper from Dwyer capped the Titans' scoring run at the 7:34 mark.

Iowa Wesleyan University trimmed its deficit to 38-33 following consecutive 3-pointers by Mitch Drey with four minutes to play in the opening half, but the Titans answered with the last 10 points of the period, including seven by Boots. A layup from Boots gave UW-Oshkosh a 40-33 lead, and his 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining in the half extended UW-Oshkosh's lead to 47-33.

The Tigers pulled within 54-46 in the second half on a basket by Drey, but a jumper by Jansen put the Titans ahead, 56-46, and UW-Oshkosh maintained a double-digit lead for the final 14:21 of the contest. The Titans led by as many as 18 points on two occasions. A layup by Max Schebel gave UW-Oshkosh an 84-66 advantage with 3:16 remaining, and a basket by Sam Johnson with 30 seconds to play provided the game's final score.

Marquis Jones paced Iowa Wesleyan University with 22 points and five rebounds. He made 7 of 11 shots from the floor and 8 of 9 attempts from the free throw line.

Steven Soukup added 15 points for the Tigers while Michael Soukup had 11 points and a team-leading four assists. Drey finished with 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field.

UW-Oshkosh remains in Waverly to face tournament host Warburg College (Iowa) on Saturday (Nov. 19).