Basketball gets first-round bye

Nate Proell

Sophomore guard No. 1 Kyle Beyak controls the ball against UW-La Crosse on Feb. 8. The Titans lost 60-70.
[/media-credit] Sophomore guard No. 1 Kyle Beyak controls the ball against UW-La Crosse on Feb. 8. The Titans lost 60-70.
Senior No. 5 Taylor Jansen goes up for a shot against the Eagles as teammate No. 0 Charlie Noone watches on.
[/media-credit] Senior No. 5 Taylor Jansen goes up for a shot against the Eagles as teammate No. 0 Charlie Noone watches on.

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team clinched the second seed and a first-round bye in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship tournament after finishing the regular season with a 73-55 victory over the UW-Stout Blue Devils on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Titans head coach Pat Juckem said the team has done what was necessary to earn their current position.

“It’s a long season; this is the good stuff,” Juckem said. “They’ve put themselves in a good position, earning the first-round bye. We’re taking advantage of it in terms of our practices.”

With the victory, the Titans went undefeated on the road in conference play to bring their WIAC record to 9-5, giving them their second consecutive second-place finish in the WIAC in the past two years.

Titans junior guard Charlie Noone said being able to go undefeated on the road has given the team a good feeling.

“Being able to go on the road and get wins gives you a lot of confidence,” Noone said. “Going on the road and having a lot of success on the road gives you confidence that you can, if you have to go on the road eventually, we can do it.”

Earning two second-place finishes in two consecutive years happened for the first time in 1998 and 1999, an accomplishment Juckem said he believes should not go unnoticed.

“It’s been a gradual process,” Juckem said. “We’ve talked about building it brick by brick. I’ve got a tremendous coaching staff with me. They bring a lot to the table. We’ve made a considered effort to really recruit and develop the right kind of guys. Each year we’ve made a significant stride.”

Against the Blue Devils on Saturday, Noone led the way with his second- highest point total of the season, scoring 23 points after going 7-9 in 3-pointer shooting and 8-11 overall.

Noone’s performance earned him WIAC Basketball Player of the Week.

In a game that consisted of six lead changes, the Titans got things started with a Noone 3-pointer from the tip off.

Stout was quick to answer with a layup that was countered by a jump shot from Titans’ senior forward Max Schebel, bringing the score to 5-2 with not even a minute off the clock at 19:39.

After three missed shots from Stout, Schebel put another two points on the board with a layup. However, it was answered by a layup from Blue Devils guard John Keefe, but a layup from Taylor Jansen put the Titans back up 9-4 at 17:41 in the first half.

Despite taking the early lead, the Titans fell silent for nearly six minutes. In that time, the Blue Devils went on an 8-0 run to take the lead, 9-11.

Noone was quick to respond to the lead change and hit his second 3-pointer of the night to retake the lead, 12-11, with 11:33 remaining in the first half.

A 3-pointer from Stout’s Brett Ashenmacher gave the Blue Devils the lead again at 12-14, but a layup from center Jack Flynn tied the game up.
A layup and a 3-pointer from both teams moved the score up to 19-all with 8:15 remaining in the first half.

A layup from the Blue Devils was countered by four points from sophomore guard Ben Boots which gave the Titans a two point lead, with the score sitting at 23-21.

Noone’s third 3-pointer of the night extended the lead to 26-21 but was answered by a Stout layup. A three from Jansen and a layup from Noone put the Titans up 31-23 with 4:10 remaining in the first.

A 3-point shot from Titans’ freshman forward Adam Fravert extended the Titans’ lead to 34-23. However, Stout answered with a eight-point run that was only countered by a three from Noone to end the half with a Titans’ lead of 37-31.

A Schebel dunk started off the second half for the Titans, but was answered with a Stout layup.

Noone made two 3-pointers to counter a jump shot from Keefe which brought the score to 45-35 with 15:07 remaining in the game.

By the 9:53 mark, the Titans had a comfortable 60-43 lead before both teams fell silent for nearly two minutes. A Stout layup was answered by a Kyle Beyak 3-pointer to break the drought, bringing the score to 63-45.

With 3:21 left, Noone made his last 3-pointer of the night before the Titans tacked on another six points. While the Blue Devils were able to match, it was not nearly enough, with the game ending with a final score of 73-55.

With the first-round bye in the WIAC Championship, the Titans will face the remaining highest-seeded team after the first round of games on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Noone said the bye has been good for the team and has given them time to work on themselves and bond before the game on Thursday.

“Everything from now on is just us trying to get better,” Noone said. “The bye kinda provides us with an opportunity to focus on us for a couple days before we start preparing for who we’re gonna play.”

Fifth-seeded UW-La Crosse will face fourth-seeded UW-Eau Claire and sixth-seeded UW-Stout will take on the third-seeded UW-Whitewater.
Despite not knowing who their opponent will be on Thursday, Juckem said the team has to continue to improve and needs to be ready.
“We talk about not maintaining,” Juckem said. “We have to get better, and we’re going to have to be better this week than we were last week.”
With a three-game winning streak going into the WIAC Championship, UWO senior guard Taylor Jansen said the team is feeling confident.
“Going into our WIAC tournament right now, it feels like we’re hot,” Jansen said. “It feels like we’re playing the good basketball that we need to play right now.”
With UW-River Falls being the first seed and also having a bye, the Titans will face UW-Whitewater on Thursday, Feb. 23th at 7 p.m. at home. River Falls will play UW-La Crosse. The team will compete for a chance to play for the WIAC Championship and an automatic NCAA qualification. The Titans won the WIAC championship last season.