Titans Keep WIAC Lead With Win Over Pointers

Playing in her 80th game as a Titan, Olivia Campbell tallied nine points, three assists and two steals against the Pointers.
Playing in her 80th game as a Titan, Olivia Campbell tallied nine points, three assists and two steals against the Pointers.

Karsyn Rueth had a team-high 12 points and five rebounds off the bench as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team stayed alone atop the WIAC standings with a 65-58 victory at UW-Stevens Point on Saturday (Feb. 9).

UW-Oshkosh (20-3, 10-2 WIAC), ranked 11th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed on the way to picking up its ninth win in the past 10 meetings with UW-Stevens Point. The Titans also defeated the Pointers by a 66-43 score Jan. 9 in Oshkosh.

The Titans, who reached 20 wins for the seventh consecutive season, have a one-game lead in the conference standings over 25th-ranked UW-La Crosse (20-3, 9-3 WIAC) and UW-Whitewater (16-7, 9-3) with two contests remaining. UW-Oshkosh can clinch at least a share of the WIAC title with a win at home over UW-La Crosse on Wednesday (Feb. 13) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh becomes the first WIAC program to have at least seven consecutive 20-win seasons on two occasions. The Titans also produced a run of seven straight 20-win seasons from 1994-2000. The only other league programs to have at least seven 20-win seasons in a row were UW-Whitewater with seven from 2008-14 and UW-Eau Claire with a WIAC-leading 10 between 1992-2001.

Rueth shot 4-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range, on the way to her third double-digit scoring effort of the season.

UW-Oshkosh had 12 scorers Saturday, including Olivia Campbell and Isabella Samuels with nine points apiece and Leah Porath, Jessie Rabas and Melanie Schneider with seven each. Samuels, who entered the game with a WIAC-leading .667 field goal percentage, shot 4-for-5 from the floor in 16 minutes of action.

Nikki Arneson and Brooklyn Bull both chipped in five points for the Titans as the balanced UW-Oshkosh offense featured 32 points by starters and 33 from reserves.

UW-Oshkosh finished the contest shooting 55.3 percent (26-47) from the field, 50 percent (7-14) from 3-point range and 60 percent (6-10) at the free throw line. The Titans shot at least 50 percent from the floor for the fourth time this year while their 3-point percentage was a season best.

The Titans held advantages of 18-15 in assists and 6-5 in steals while UW-Stevens Point produced edges of 25-22 in rebounds and 2-1 in blocks. Both teams committed 17 turnovers.

UW-Oshkosh went into the day ranked fourth in all of NCAA women's and men's basketball by allowing just 48.3 points per game. The Titans were also leading the conference in average rebounding margin (+7.4), turnovers per game (13.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.11).

UW-Stevens Point shot 48.8 percent (21-43) from the floor, 33.3 percent (4-12) from behind the 3-point arc and 75 percent (12-16) at the foul line. The Pointers entered the contest leading the WIAC in both free throw attempts and made free throws.

The Pointers' Carly Cerrato led all players with 17 points and added a team-best four rebounds and three assists.

Bailee Collins had 15 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks for UW-Stevens Point, which also received nine points off the bench from Taylor Greenheck.

UW-Oshkosh's 8-0 scoring run to open the game began with a 3-pointer from Schneider on the first possession and was capped by a 3-pointer by Arneson before Cerrato finally got the Pointers on the scoreboard with a jumper at the 6:36 mark of the first quarter.

The Titans extended their lead to 14-2 following a layup from Erin Vande Zande with 2:15 left in the opening period. UW-Stevens Point made one of its first eight field goal attempts and committed seven turnovers until Amber Baehman knocked down a jumper to trim the Pointers' deficit to 14-4 with 62 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Pointers matched their lowest scoring quarter of the season as they trailed, 16-6, entering the second period. UW-Oshkosh outshot UW-Stevens Point, 53.8 (7-13) to 22.2 (2-9) percent, from the floor during the first 10 minutes of play.

UW-Oshkosh maintained a double-digit lead from the 4:39 mark of the first quarter until there were 10 seconds left in the third period. The Titans, who led 29-17 at intermission, owned a 29-12 advantage after a Rueth free throw with 3:40 to go in the second quarter.

UW-Stevens Point (8-15, 4-8 WIAC) pulled within 46-38 after three quarters, but a 3-pointer by Rabas and a layup from Schneider on consecutive possessions upped the Titans' lead back to 54-41 with 6:46 remaining in the game.

The Pointers responded with five unanswered points over the next minute to cut their deficit to 54-46 midway through the final period. However, UW-Oshkosh's Chloe Pustina and Arneson both scored baskets in the paint during a span of 40 seconds to extend its lead to 58-46 with just under four minutes to play, and the Titans maintained a cushion of at least seven points the rest of the way.

First place in the WIAC will be on the line when UW-Oshkosh hosts UW-La Crosse on Wednesday in Kolf Sports Center. The Titans defeated the Eagles, 60-48, Jan. 19 in La Crosse.

Photo by Kylie Bridenhagen