UW-Oshkosh is headed back to the Final Four of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship for the second straight year.
Adam Fravert led five UW-Oshkosh double-digit scorers with 26 points on 10 of 11 shooting from the field as the Titans withstood a pair of potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final seconds and hung on for an 82-79 victory over Guilford College (N.C.) during the Oshkosh Sectional title game Saturday (March 9) in Kolf Sports Center.
The Titans, who never trailed, owned a 79-71 lead with 1:49 remaining, but the Quakers scored eight of the next nine points to cut their deficit to 80-79 following a pair of free throws by Jaylen Gore with 27 seconds to play.
Guilford College had two good looks at 3-pointers on the final possession of the game. However, Kyler Gregory's long-range jumper caromed off the rim with eight seconds left and, following an offensive rebound from Liam Ward, Gore's attempt from 3-point range was off the mark with two ticks remaining. The ball was batted around several times after Gore's miss, but time expired before Guilford College could try a third shot from beyond the arc.
UW-Oshkosh (27-3), ranked fourth in the country by D3hoops.com, advances to play Wheaton College (Ill.) in the national semifinals next Friday (March 15) in Fort Wayne, Ind. Wheaton College (23-8) reached the Final Four with a 91-87 win over 22nd-ranked Marietta College (Ohio) behind 62 points from Aston Francis on Saturday in Rock Island, Ill.
Fravert shot 6-for-7 from 3-point range and collected nine rebounds and dished out three assists on the way to registering the 67th double-digit scoring effort of his career. Fravert's six made 3-pointers were a career high.
The Titans, who extended the program record for wins in a season, also received 14 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds from Jack Flynn, 11 points from Connor Duax and 10 points apiece from Wittchow and Eric Peterson. The double-double was Flynn's ninth of the season and 17th of his career while Peterson had all 10 of his points during the first 13 minutes en route to scoring in double figures for the first time.
UW-Oshkosh's Ben Boots added six points, six rebounds, a game-high seven assists and a pair of blocks. He is now alone atop the program record book with 406 assists.
The Titans shot 50.9 percent (28-55) from the floor, 40.7 percent (11-27) from beyond the 3-point arc and 71.4 percent (15-21) at the free throw line. UW-Oshkosh, the second team to shoot better than 50 percent from the field against the Quakers this year, held advantages of 19-10 in assists and 7-0 in blocks.
Guilford College (24-8) went 38.4 percent (28-73) from the floor, 35 percent (7-20) from 3-point range and 72.7 percent (16-22) at the foul line. The Quakers, who owned a 40-37 rebounding advantage and edges of 8-17 in turnovers and 7-6 in steals, is the fourth team in the last 32 games to outrebound the Titans.
The Quakers' Kyler Gregory led all players with 31 points on 12-for-26 shooting from the floor and contributed six rebounds.
Carson Long and Gore added 18 and 12 points, respectively, for Guilford College. Long collected a team-high eight rebounds while Gore led the Quakers with five assists.
UW-Oshkosh raced out to leads of 20-6 and 25-11 as Guilford College made just five of its 17 field goal attempts and committed five turnovers during the opening 11 minutes of the game.
The Titans built their largest cushion of 16 points at 31-15 after the second of back-to-back 3-pointers from Peterson at the 7:37 mark of the first half. The Quakers pulled within 38-31 with 2:44 left in the opening period before UW-Oshkosh increased its lead to 48-38 at intermission.
Guilford College twice cut its second-half deficit to one point before the closing minute, including at 68-67 with with just under eight minutes left. A 3-pointer by Fravert upped the Titan lead to 75-69 at the 3:04 mark, and a Flynn layup provided UW-Oshkosh a 79-71 advantage with 1:49 to go.
Gore drained a pair of free throws to pull the Quakers within 80-75 with 51 seconds remaining. A Titan turnover six seconds later preceded a driving layup from Long that cut the Guilford College deficit to 80-77 with 33 seconds left.
Another UW-Oshkosh turnover – its season-high 17th of the contest – set up Gore's free throws that made it a one-point game with 27 seconds to go.
UW-Oshkosh entered Saturday ranked eight nationally with a +9.3 average rebounding margin. The Titans also listed 11th in the country with a +16.0 average scoring margin, and 12th with a 1.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.
During Saturday's victory the Titans surpassed the program season records for points with 2,515 and made 3-pointers with 305. UW-Oshkosh, which is four made 3-pointers from tying the conference record, is the seventh WIAC team to score more than 2,500 in the season.
Guilford College went into the Elite Eight ranked third in the country with a .375 field goal percentage defense and a +11.2 average rebounding margin while listing fourth in 3-point percentage defense (.293) and 10th in rebounds per game (44.4).
UW-Oshkosh and Wheaton College will be meeting for the second time this season. The Thunder handed the Titans their first loss of the season by an 85-74 score Nov. 17 in Wheaton, Ill.
The Titans, making their second overall NCAA Final Four appearance, reached last year's national title game before falling, 78-72, to Nebraska Wesleyan University in Salem, Va.