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Eagles End Titans' 21-Game Win Streak

Brett Wittchow had 13 points and four assists against the Eagles.
Brett Wittchow had 13 points and four assists against the Eagles.

UW-La Crosse scored the last 10 points of the game and pulled out a 66-61 upset win over the nationally ranked and outright WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team Wednesday (Feb. 13) in La Crosse.

UW-La Crosse (16-8, 9-4 WIAC) faced a 61-56 deficit following a jumper from UW-Oshkosh's Ben Boots with 2:49 remaining. The Eagles then began their comeback with a layup from Taulvish McCray before Ben Meinholz scored their next six points for a 64-61 advantage with 27 seconds remaining.

UW-Oshkosh (22-2, 12-1 WIAC) missed a jumper on the ensuing possession, and UW-La Crosse's Brendon Manning put the game away with a pair of free throws that created the final score with 16 seconds left.

With the victory UW-La Crosse remained in second place in the league standings, one game ahead of UW-Stevens Point (16-7, 8-5 WIAC) with one contest remaining. UW-Oshkosh will be the top seed and UW-La Crosse the second seed for the WIAC Championship that commences next week.

UW-Oshkosh, which last Saturday (Feb. 9) clinched the program's first outright WIAC title since 1978, had its nation-leading 21-game winning streak snapped. The Titans, ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, suffered their first loss since an 86-74 setback at Wheaton College (Ill.) on Nov. 17. UW-Oshkosh's 21-game winning streak was tied for the fourth longest in WIAC history.

The Eagles had lost each of their four previous meetings with the Titans, including a 72-66 decision Jan. 19 in Oshkosh.

Manning paced UW-La Crosse with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds while Meinholz added 12 points and Josh Dahlke 11 points and eight boards off the bench for the Eagles.

UW-La Crosse shot 41.9 percent (26-62) from the field, 20 percent (3-15) from 3-point range and 84.6 percent (11-13) at the free throw line. The Eagles owned advantages of 43-32 in rebounds, 10-11 in turnovers and 8-4 in steals. UW-La Crosse is just the second team to outrebound UW-Oshkosh over the past 26 games.

UW-Oshkosh, the top-scoring team in the WIAC at 83.7 points per game, was held to its lowest scoring output of the season after shooting 39.3 percent (22-56) from the floor, 34.6 percent (9-26) from behind the 3-pioint arc and 66.7 percent (8-12) at the foul line. The Titans compiled slim advantages of 11-10 in assists and 4-2 in blocks.

UW-Oshkosh's Adam Fravert led all players with 21 points to go along with a team-best nine rebounds and two steals. He tied his career high with five made 3-pointers on 10 attempts.

Brett Wittchow contributed 13 points and a game-high four assists for the Titans, who also received 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists from Boots. Jack Flynn chipped in nine points and six rebounds for UW-Oshkosh. Boots moved into eighth place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,567 career points, surpassing Jim Capelle's total of 1,559 from 2004-07.

UW-La Crosse reserves accounted for 25 points and 16 rebounds while UW-Oshkosh's registered one rebound and zero points.

UW-Oshkosh led the entire first half after Fravert drained a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the game. A Wittchow 3-pointer extended the Titans' advantage to 16-7 with 10:22 to play in the first period, and UW-Oshkosh went into intermission with a 30-27 lead behind 10 points from Wittchow.

UW-La Crosse took its first lead of the contest at 33-32 on a layup by Dahlke with 16:56 remaining in the second half.

Trailing 49-45 with 8:34 to go, UW-Oshkosh scored the next nine points – all on Fravert 3-pointers during a span of 66 seconds – to reclaim a 54-49 lead with 6:59 left. Boots later slashed through the lane for a layup to increase the UW-Oshkosh lead to 56-51 at the 6:24 mark.

Fravert misfired on a 3-point attempt that would have upped UW-Oshkosh's lead to four points with less than a minute to play. Meinholz then scored in the paint to give the Eagles their final lead at 62-61 with 44 seconds remaining. The Titans' next two possessions resulted in a missed 3-pointer and a turnover before a pair of free throws by Meinholz extended UW-La Crosse's advantage to 64-61 with 27 seconds to go.

UW-Oshkosh missed a jumper on the following possession, and Manning's two free throws iced the game.

The Titans conclude the regular season at UW-Eau Claire on Saturday (Feb. 16). UW-Oshkosh defeated UW-Eau Claire, 85-63, Jan. 23 in Oshkosh.

Photo by Jim Lund