Brett Wittchow led four UW-Oshkosh double-digit scorers with a game-high 20 points as the nationally ranked and outright WIAC champion Titans closed out the regular season with a convincing 89-62 men's basketball win at UW-Eau Claire on Saturday (Feb. 16).
UW-Oshkosh (23-2, 13-1 WIAC), ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, reclaimed an 18-15 lead it would not relinquish following a 3-pointer by David Vlotho with 11:45 remaining in the first half. The Titans extended their advantage to 47-33 at intermission and went on to lead by as many as 31 points midway through the second half.
The Titans, outright WIAC champions for the first time since the 1977-78 season, wrapped up the league title last Saturday (Feb. 9) with their home win over UW-Stevens Point.
As the top seed for the upcoming six-team WIAC Championship, UW-Oshkosh receives a bye into the semifinal round. The Titans are set to host a semifinal contest against the lowest remaining seed at 7 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 21) in Kolf Sports Center. The title game of the WIAC Championship will be conducted Saturday (Feb. 23) at the highest remaining seed.
UW-Eau Claire (14-11, 7-7 WIAC), which earned the fifth seed for this year's WIAC Championship, opens the league tournament with a first round game at fourth-seeded UW-Stevens Point (16-8, 8-6) on Tuesday (Feb. 19).
Wittchow shot 7-for-9 from the field on the way to his 55th double-digit scoring performance of his career. He moved into 27th on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,117 career points.
Jack Flynn added 17 points, six rebounds and a career-high six assists for the Titans, who also received 15 points and five rebounds from Ben Boots and 10 points off the bench from Vlotho. UW-Oshkosh's Adam Fravert had eight points and led all players with a season-high 15 rebounds and three blocks.
Fravert now has a WIAC-leading 49 blocks on the year, while Boots hit four 3-pointers to increase his career total to 250, which is five shy of tying the school record.
UW-Oshkosh finished the game shooting 46.4 percent (32-69) from the floor, 34.3 percent (12-35) from 3-point range and 92.9 percent (13-14) at the free throw line. The Titans, who knocked down at least 11 3-pointers for the 11th time this season, produced the 13th-best free throw performance in program history.
The Titans, who had 11 scorers, held advantages of 44-28 in rebounds, 13-4 in offensive rebounds, 17-8 in assists, 7-0 in blocks and 7-9 in turnovers. Both teams had five steals.
UW-Oshkosh, which has outrebounded 25 of its last 27 opponents, went into the contest leading the WIAC in scoring (83.7), field goal percentage (.476), assists (15.6) and 3-pointers (10.0) per game, blocks (104), field goal (.411) and 3-point (.313) defensive percentages, average scoring (+16.7) and rebounding (+9.3) margins, and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.44).
UW-Eau Claire, which suffered its largest loss since a 29-point setback in December 2015, shot 42.1 percent (24-57) from the field, 28.6 percent (6-21) from behind the 3-point arc and 66.7 percent (8-12) at the foul line.
Steve Christiansen paced the Blugolds with 10 points and four assists.
Cole Rabedeaux and Wilyam Wright both added nine points for UW-Eau Claire while Cam Kuepers and Ben Widdes chipped in eight apiece. Rabedeaux, who went into the game with a WIAC-best .425 3-point percentage, went 1-for-3 from long range and grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds off the Blugold bench.
UW-Oshkosh jumped out to a 9-3 lead behind six points from Flynn and three from Wittchow. UW-Eau Claire rallied to take a 12-11 advantage with 14:28 remaining in the first half and owned a 15-12 edge at the 12:26 mark.
The Titans then answered with six straight points to reclaim an 18-15 lead they would not relinquish. Clinging to a 33-29 lead with 4:49 left in the first half, UW-Oshkosh closed out the period with a 14-4 scoring run that featured eight points from Boots and three apiece by Flynn and Wittchow.
UW-Oshkosh put the game away with a 12-2 scoring run during the span of just over two minutes in the second half. Wittchow started the decisive run with a layup for a 51-35 UW-Oshkosh lead with 18:58 to play and Flynn capped it with a short jumper for a 61-37 Titan advantage at the 16:52 mark.
The Titans owned their largest lead of 31 points at 73-42 after a 3-pointer by JT Petrie with 10:09 remaining.
UW-Oshkosh picked up its third straight win over UW-Eau Claire and seventh in the past eight meetings. The Titans also defeated he Blugolds, 85-63, Jan. 23 in Oshkosh.
With Saturday's victory, UW-Oshkosh interim head coach Matt Lewis' .920 winning percentage remains the best among all 1,098 active NCAA men's basketball coaches.