The nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team completed the regular season sweep over UW-Stout with an 81-67 victory behind season-best scoring performances from Nikki Arneson, Olivia Campbell, Leah Porath and Jessie Rabas on Saturday (Feb. 2) in Menomonie.
UW-Oshkosh (18-2, 8-1 WIAC), ranked 12th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, seized control during the second quarter as the Titans outscored the Blue Devils, 18-7, in the period by limiting UW-Stout to just 2-for-15 shooting from the field on the way to entering intermission with a 37-26 lead.
UW-Stout (15-6, 5-5 WIAC) cut its deficit to 64-59 with 3:50 remaining in the game, but the Titans responded with nine unanswered points, including seven from Rabas, to extend their lead to 73-59 with 96 seconds left. UW-Oshkosh secured its sixth straight win over the Blue Devils win by shooting 12-for-14 from the free throw line over the final two minutes. The Titans also beat UW-Stout, 81-54, Jan. 5 in Oshkosh.
UW-Oshkosh, which improved to 7-0 on the road this season, increased its lead in the conference standings to one and a half games over UW-La Crosse (18-3, 7-3 WIAC). The Titans, off to an 8-1 start in league play for the second time in the past three seasons, have five games remaining and the second-place Eagles four.
Porath paced the Titans with a season-best 16 points while Rabas matched her season high with 15, Campbell tied her career high with 13 and Arneson equaled her career best with 11. The quartet combined to shoot 16-for-29 from the field and 19-for-23 at the free throw line as UW-Oshkosh had at least four double-digit scorers for the second straight game and the third time this season.
Rabas led all players with a season-high four blocks, and Porath grabbed a team-best six rebounds.
Karsyn Rueth chipped in seven points and a team-leading three assists off the UW-Oshkosh bench to help Titan reserves outscore UW-Stout's, 41-10. UW-Oshkosh non-starters also contributed 21 of the team's 38 rebounds, eight of the squad's 16 assists and each of its four blocks.
UW-Oshkosh shot 47.3 percent (26-55) from the floor, 40 percent (8-20) from 3-point range and 67.7 percent (21-31) at the free throw line. The Titans' 21 made free throws are a season high.
The Titans finished Saturday's contest with advantages of 38-34 in rebounds, 16-12 in assists and 12-13 in turnovers. The Blue Devils had a 7-5 edge in steals and both teams registered four blocks. UW-Stout matched its season-low steal total after entering the contest leading the WIAC with 21.3 turnovers forced and 11.4 steals per game.
UW-Oshkosh went into Saturday with the third best scoring defense in all of NCAA women's and men's basketball across all three divisions, allowing just 46.1 points per game. The Titans were also leading the WIAC in average scoring (+20.3) and rebounding (+8.2) margins, turnovers per game (13.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.09). UW-Oshkosh's current field goal percentage defense of .339 is on pace to eclipse the program record .354 established during the 2016-17 campaign.
UW-Stout shot 41.7 percent (25-60) from the field, 33.3 percent (5-15) from beyond the 3-point arc and 75 percent (12-16) at the free throw line.
Bailey Diersen and Amber Fabeck led the Blue Devils with 16 points apiece. Diersen added a game-high five steals to increase her WIAC-leading total to 72 on the year.
Kyncaide Diedrich had 13 points and 10 rebounds for UW-Stout, which also received 12 points from Liz Oswald.
UW-Stout led by as many as five points during the first quarter before a three-point play by Campbell sparked a string of seven unanswered points for a 19-17 Titan advantage.
Tied at 19 entering the second period, a Rabas jumper gave UW-Oshkosh the lead for good at 21-19 with 9:16 left before intermission. Rueth followed with a 3-pointer, and Campbell converted another three-point play to increase the Titan lead to 27-19 at the 6:53 mark of the second quarter.
Campbell later capped her 13-point first half with a 3-pointer that gave UW-Oshkosh its 37-26 halftime lead.
Chloe Pustina drained a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third period to extend the Titan lead to 53-39 entering the final quarter, but UW-Stout answered with eight consecutive points to pull within 56-50 with 7:39 to go.
Diersen's three-point play trimmed the Blue Devils' deficit to 64-59 with 3:50 left before Porath hit a jumper and Rabas scored the game's next seven points during a span of 42 seconds for a 73-59 Titan advantage with 1:36 to play. Rabas began her scoring spurt with a 3-pointer at the 2:18 mark and added four free throws over the next two UW-Oshkosh possessions.
Rabas and Porath accounted for each of the Titans' last 19 points, including 10 by Rabas, over the final 5:10 of the game.
UW-Oshkosh will seek to avenge its lone conference loss when it travels to UW-Whitewater on Monday (Feb. 4) for a game that was postponed from Wednesday (Jan. 30) due to extreme low temperatures. UW-Whitewater slipped past the Titans, 49-47, Jan. 16 in Oshkosh.
Photo courtesy of Chico La Barbera