UW-Oshkosh's Isabella Samuels was nearly unstoppable, scoring 22 points on 11-for-12 shooting from the field, as the nationally ranked Titans pulled away for a 72-46 victory over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.) during the opening round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship on Friday (March 1) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh (25-3), ranked 13th in the country by D3hoops.com, held the Sagehens scoreless for more than six minutes at the start of the second quarter, turning a 19-18 deficit into a 22-19 lead with under four minutes to play in the period.
The Titans regained the lead for good at 24-23 with 3:10 to go in the second quarter and put the game away behind a 13-1 scoring run that spanned more than five minutes and extended their advantage to 53-37 at the 9:14 mark of the fourth period en route to holding first-time opponent Pomona-Pitzer Colleges to its lowest scoring output of the season.
UW-Oshkosh advances to play in the Oshkosh Regional title game against 19th-ranked DePauw University (Ind.) at 7 p.m. Saturday (March 2) in Kolf Sports Center. The Titans beat DePauw University, 64-49, in the last meeting between the teams during the championship game of the 2017 Oshkosh Regional.
DePauw University (25-4) reached the Oshkosh Regional title game with a 78-54 win over Loras College (Iowa) (22-6) on Friday.
Samuels scored 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting from the floor in the first quarter on the way to finishing one point shy of her career high of 23 points. She added four rebounds in just 20 minutes Friday and improved her season field goal percentage to .711.
UW-Oshkosh's Chloe Pustina chipped in nine points and four assists while Erin Vande Zande had six points off the bench. Starter Olivia Campbell contributed three points to go along with a team-leading six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
The Titans shot 44.3 percent (27-61) from the field, 30.8 percent (8-26) from 3-point range and 71.4 percent (10-14) at the free throw line. UW-Oshkosh, which has now made a program record-tying 192 3-pointers on the year, held advantages of 43-36 in rebounds, 22-4 in assists, 8-9 in turnovers, 4-3 in blocks and 6-3 in steals.
UW-Oshkosh, which has limited 19 opponents under 50 points this season, entered the national tournament ranked seventh in the country with a 48.3 scoring defense while also listing 15th nationally with 13.1 turnovers per game, 17th with a +18.7 average scoring margin and 19th with a 1.13 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (22-6) shot 29.5 percent (18-61) from the floor, 15.4 percent (4-26) from beyond the 3-point arc and 75 percent (6-8) at the foul line. The Sagehens established a new season low in assists and tied for their fewest made field goals and lowest field goal percentage after heading into the weekend ranked ninth in the nation in free throw percentage (.757), 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.19) and 16th in 3-point percentage (.366).
Carly Leong paced Pomona-Pitzer Colleges with 15 points and six rebounds.
The Sagehens led by as many as four points in the opening period as a Leong 3-pointer gave them a 19-15 advantage with 72 seconds to go. Pomona-Pitzer Colleges took its last lead at 23-22 with 3:43 remaining in the second quarter before UW-Oshkosh closed out the first half with six straight points, including four from Porath, as the Titans went into intermission with a 28-23 advantage.
A 3-pointer by Pustina extended the Titans' lead to 40-31 with 5:32 to play in the third quarter. Clinging to a 40-36 lead at the 4:26 mark of the third period, UW-Oshkosh's 13-1 run featured five different scorers, including Nikki Arneson, whose 3-pointer capped the decisive run for a 53-37 advantage.
The Sagehens missed six consecutive field goal attempts and committed three turnovers during the Titans' 13-1 run until a layup by Amara Chidom pulled Pomona-Pitzer Colleges within 53-39 at the 8:27 mark of the fourth quarter.
UW-Oshkosh went on to build its largest lead of 28 points at 72-44 following a layup by Emily Miller with 28 seconds remaining.
With the victory UW-Oshkosh head coach Brad Fischer now has 164 wins (164-36) in his seven seasons at the helm of the Titans, moving him into a tie for 11th on the WIAC's all-time list with former UW-River Falls coach Dennis Bloom.
The Titans have won at least one game in 14 of their 15 trips to the NCAA postseason. UW-Oshkosh, the 1996 national champion and 1995 runner-up, is seeking its eighth regional title and first since 2017.
UW-Oshkosh has won two of its three all-time meetings with DePauw University. The Tigers won Division III championships in 2007 and 2013.