UW-Oshkosh (18-1, 8-0 WIAC), ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, reclaimed the lead for good at 52-50 following a three-point play from Wittchow with 10:57 remaining. Clinging to a 64-61 lead with 5:37 left, a three-point-play by Jack Flynn provided the Titans a 67-71 advantage at the 5:12 mark, and UW-Oshkosh led by at least four points the rest of the way.
The Titans, who extended their school-record winning streak to 17 games, continued the best start to a season in the program's 121-year history. UW-Oshkosh, which reached the title game of the NCAA Division III Championship last season, is one win shy of matching its best conference start of 9-0 established during the 1967-68 campaign.
UW-Oshkosh owns a one-game lead in the league standings over 22nd-ranked UW-La Crosse (14-5, 7-1 WIAC) with six contests remaining. The Titans' 17-game winning streak is the ninth longest in WIAC history.
The Titans also earned their fourth straight win over the Falcons, including a 91-56 decision Jan. 12 in Oshkosh.
Fravert accounted for 17 of the Titans' 39 first-half points while Wittchow contributed 13 of the team's 41 points during the second period. Fravert and Wittchow finished the game with 24 and 18 points, respectively.
Fravert, who paced UW-Oshkosh in scoring for the fifth time this season, shot 5-for-10 from 3-point range and 8-for-22 from the field overall while adding a game-high three blocks and three steals on the way to his 39th double-digit scoring effort of his career. His five made 3-pointers and 10 attempts from beyond the arc are career highs. Fravert also increased his WIAC-leading block total to 38 on the year.
Wittchow went 6-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line, en route to his 49th career game with at least 10 points.
Ben Boots had 14 points, eight rebounds, a team-leading three assists and a pair of steals for the Titans, who also received nine points and a game-best 11 rebounds from Flynn, and seven points in 11 minutes from reserve David Vlotho. Boots, who committed just one turnover, entered the night with a WIAC-best 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio.
UW-Oshkosh shot 41.4 percent (24-58) from the floor, 48.1 percent (13-27) from 3-point range and 73.1 percent (19-26) at the free throw line. The Titans have made at least 11 3-point baskets on eight occasions this season.
The Titans held slim advantages in assists (12-10), turnovers (7-10), blocks (4-2) and steals (6-4) while the Falcons owned a 46-35 rebounding advantage to become the first team in 21 games to outrebound UW-Oshkosh.
UW-Oshkosh, which scored at least 80 points for the 13th time this season, entered Saturday ranked seventh in the country with a +11.2 average rebounding margin, eighth with a +19.0 average scoring margin and 10th with a 1.52 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Titans were also leading the WIAC in scoring (85.2), made 3-pointers (175), rebounds (41.1) and assists (16.2) per game, blocks (79) and field goal percentage defense (.407).
UW-River Falls shot 42 percent (29-69) from the field, 23.5 percent (4-17) from beyond the 3-point arc and 53.8 percent (7-13) from the free throw line. The Falcons, who allowed a season-high made 3-pointers, collected 17 offensive rebounds after heading into the game averaging a WIAC-best 12.4 per contest.
Austin Heidecker led the Falcons with 18 points and seven rebounds. He went into the game averaging a WIAC-high 10.8 rebounds.
Jack Stensgard added 17 points for UW-River Falls while Ross Ingersoll and Julian Jackson chipped in 13 and 10, respectively. The Falcons' Clay Seifert contributed four points, seven rebounds and a game-leading six assists.
UW-River Falls raced out to a 13-2 lead during the opening seven minutes of the game as UW-Oshkosh made just one of its first 10 field goal attempts until Fravert drained a 3-pointer that cut the Titans' deficit to 13-5 and snapped their scoreless stretch of nearly six minutes.
The Falcons led by as many as 13 points at 20-7 following a dunk by Jackson with 9:30 left in the first half, but UW-Oshkosh responded with a 15-2 scoring run to tie the score at 22. Each of the Titans' 15 points during the run that spanned just 97 seconds came via 3-pointers as Fravert sank a pair of long-range jumpers while Boots, Vlotho and Wittchow added one each.
Fravert converted two free throws to give the Titans a 31-26 lead with 4:07 to play in the first half, and Boots later drained a 3-pointer for a 39-35 UW-Oshkosh advantage at intermission.
UW-River Falls scored the first six points of the second half to reclaim a 41-39 advantage and later held a 50-49 lead with 12:19 remaining, but UW-Oshkosh regained control by tallying 11 of the next 13 points, including six from Wittchow, for a 60-52 lead at the 9:07 mark.
UW-Oshkosh went on to lead by as many as 11 points on two occasions during the finals minutes, upping their advantage to 76-65 after a Fravert 3-pointer with 2:19 to go and a free throw by Fravert with 42 seconds left that created the final score.
Titans interim head coach Matt Lewis remains the active leader in winning percentage among all 1,098 active NCAA men's basketball coaches across all three divisions at .947 with a 18-1 record during his first season at the helm.
UW-Oshkosh hosts UW-Whitewater on Wednesday (Jan. 30) in Kolf Sports Center. The Titans defeated the Warhawks, 82-75, Jan. 16 in Whitewater.
Photo by Steve Frommell, D3Photography.com