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Titans Widen WIAC Lead With Win Over Falcons

Leah Porath scored nine of her season-high 11 points in the first half as the Titans built a 36-26 lead over the Falcons.
Leah Porath scored nine of her season-high 11 points in the first half as the Titans built a 36-26 lead over the Falcons.

Leah Porath and Melanie Schneider paced five UW-Oshkosh double-digit scorers with 11 points apiece as the nationally ranked Titans pulled away for a 65-45 women's basketball victory over UW-River Falls on Saturday (Jan. 26) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (17-2, 7-1 WIAC) reclaimed the lead for good at 19-17 on a layup from Schneider with 6:31 left in the second quarter. The Titans went on to take a 36-26 lead into intermission and outscored the Falcons, 29-19, during the second half as UW-River Falls shot just 3-for-16 from the field, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range, after halftime.

The Titans, who have held 15 of their last 18 opponents under 50 points, now own a two-game lead in the conference standings with six contests remaining. UW-Oshkosh went into Saturday with the third-ranked scoring defense in all of NCAA men's or women's basketball by allowing just 46.1 points per game.

Porath, who established a season-high point total, scored in double figures for the second time this year while Schneider had a least 10 points for the ninth time.

UW-Oshkosh, ranked 12th in Division III by D3hoops.com, produced five double-digit scorers for the first time this season as Jessie Rabas, Karsyn Rueth and Isabella Samuels had 10 points each. The Titans had five players with 10 or more points for the first time in the 182 games since a 95-75 win over North Central College (Ill.) on Dec. 20, 2012.

Chloe Pustina added six points and a team-leading six rebounds and six assists for the Titans, who picked up their ninth consecutive victory over UW-River Falls. The Titans, who won by double figures for the 14th time this season, also defeated the Falcons by a 70-42 score Jan. 12 in River Falls.

The Titans shot 40.7 percent (22-54) from the field, 29.4 percent from 3-point range (5-17) and 66.7 percent at the free throw line (16-24).

The Titans held advantages of 12-7 in assists, 9-22 in turnovers, 6-3 in blocks and 10-5 in steals. UW-Oshkosh, which was outrebounded, 34-32, entered the contest leading the WIAC in average rebounding margin (+8.7), average scoring margin (+20.3), turnovers per game (13.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.09).

UW-River Falls (7-12, 1-7 WIAC), which suffered its fifth straight loss, shot 30.8 percent (12-39) from the floor, 22.2 percent (4-18) from beyond the 3-point arc and 68 percent (17-25) at the foul line. The Falcons, who had a season high in turnovers, collected just six offensive rebounds after entering the game ranked 430th among 437 Division III teams by averaging 8.2 offensive boards per contest.

Jenna Zeman led all players with 14 points for the Falcons, who also received 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds from Brianna Leahy, and 10 points, eight rebounds and a team-best three assists from Crystal Pearson.

UW-River Falls scored the first five points of the game and owned a 12-6 advantage with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter, but UW-Oshkosh responded with a 9-2 scoring run over the remainder of the period to take a 15-14 lead following a last-second layup by Porath.

The Falcons reclaimed a 17-15 lead after a 3-pointer by Leahy early in the second period. However, back-to-back layups from Pustina and Schneider in the span of 36 seconds gave the Titans a 19-17 lead they would not relinquish.

Leading 29-24 with two minutes to play in the first half, UW-Oshkosh scored seven of the last nine points of the second period to take a 36-26 lead into intermission. Porath accounted for five of UW-Oshkosh's last seven points of the half.

UW-Oshkosh held a lead of at least 10 points for the final 20:33 of the game. The Titans owned their largest advantage when Schneider drove for a layup in the final seconds that created the final score.

Titans seventh-year head coach Brad Fischer moved into third place on the school's all-time coaching list with his 156th win. Fischer, who sports a 156-35 record, surpassed Kathi Bennett's total of 155 wins from 1990-96. Fischer's .817 winning percentage ranks third in conference history among coaches with at least 70 wins, trailing only Bennett (155-32) at .829 and UW-Eau Claire's Lisa Stone (277-59 from 1989-2000) at .824.

Carol Anhalt won a program-record 288 games as head coach of the Titans from 1972-89. Pam Ruder is second in school history with 203 wins from 1997-2005.

UW-Oshkosh travels to UW-Whitewater on Wednesday (Jan. 30). The Warhawks edged the Titans, 49-47, Jan. 16 in Oshkosh.

Photo by Steve Frommell, D3Photography.com