Jack Flynn had a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team to an 86-77 season-opening victory over first-time opponent Piedmont College (Ga.) at the Lee Pfund Classic on Friday (Nov. 16) in Wheaton, Ill.
UW-Oshkosh (1-0), ranked second in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, took the lead for good at 61-60 following a 3-pointer by Ben Boots with 8:44 remaining. Boots' long-range jumper, which marked the 15th lead change of the second half, sparked a 9-0 scoring run during a span of less than two minutes that turned a 60-58 UW-Oshkosh deficit into a 67-60 Titan lead.
The Titans owned their largest advantage of 10 points at 73-63 following a dunk by Connor Duax with 5:07 to play. UW-Oshkosh went on to maintain a lead of at least seven points the rest of the way after Duax skyed for his two-handed dunk off of a missed layup.
UW-Oshkosh, which advanced to the Division III championship game last season, has won 16 of its last 18 non-conference contests.
Flynn shot 8 of 15 from the field Friday en route to producing his ninth career double-double.
Boots ended the contest with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists while Brett Wittchow added 18 points, five rebounds and a team-leading five assists for the Titans. Boots scored 16 points, and Wittchow 12, during the second half as the duo combined to make 14 of 15 free throws after intermission.
Duax finished the game with nine points and four rebounds off the UW-Oshkosh bench.
UW-Oshkosh shot 23 of 28 (82.1 percent) at the free throw line and held advantages in rebounds (38-35), assists (18-11), blocks (3-2) and steals (7-6).
Piedmont College (0-3), which did not trail during the final 14 minutes of the first half, concluded the game with narrow advantages in field goal percentage (.463 to .452) and 3-point percentage (.333 to .318). Both teams committed 11 turnovers.
UW-Oshkosh scored the first seven points of the contest as Flynn and Wittchow scored in the lane before Vlotho drilled a 3-pointer at the 18:20 mark of the opening period.
Trailing 11-5 with 15:42 left in the first half, Piedmont College responded with 12 unanswered points to take a 17-11 lead it would not relinquish until the second period. The Lions' 12-point spurt featured six points from Marquise Lanier and four by Miles Riley.
UW-Oshkosh missed seven straight field goal attempts during a span of nearly six minutes until Vlotho sank a 3-pointer that trimmed the Titan deficit to 19-16 with 10:39 to go in the opening half. The Lions had their largest lead of the game of seven points on three occasions during the first half, including a 31-24 score with six minutes to play before halftime. The Titans closed out the period with a 12-5 scoring run to tie the score at 36 at intermission.
A 3-pointer by Taylor Mills provided Piedmont College its final lead of the contest at 60-58 with nine minutes remaining. UW-Oshkosh matched its largest lead at 75-65 on a layup by Flynn and again at 78-68 following a 3-pointer from Boots with 2:50 left.
Lanier and Mills paced the Lions with 19 points apiece while Riley added 16 points and led the squad with five assists and three steals. Piedmont College starters Jordan Foote, who had team-leading 10 rebounds, and Justin Quick both chipped nine points as the Lions received just five points from reserves.
UW-Oshkosh takes on tournament host Wheaton College in the Lee Pfund Classic championship game Saturday (Nov. 17).