Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Men earn NCAA post season tournament bid

Ben Boots crosses over an opposing Warhawk on Thursday.
[/media-credit] Ben Boots crosses over an opposing Warhawk on Thursday.

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The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team clinched a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Men’s Basketball Championship tournament berth for the second straight year.

During the selection show on Monday, the Titans found out they will be taking on the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, Hope College, in the first round.

Making it to the tournament is something head coach Pat Juckem said the team has put in the effort to earn.

“We accomplished a lot already this year,” Juckem said. “We absolutely earned our way in. We have the strongest strength of schedule in the country and that’s what carried us in. We played in the best conference. We took second place in the best league in the country and played the best schedule in the country out of 418 schools.”

The men’s Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season came to an end on Saturday, after losing to the first seeded UW-River Falls Falcons in the WIAC Championship final by a score of 59-60 in River Falls.

The 2017 WIAC Max Sparger Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, senior forward Sean Dwyer, said the team felt a sense of relief after hearing they made the tournament despite their loss.

“It was a breath of fresh air for us this morning [Monday] when we found out that we made the tournament,” Dwyer said. “We as seniors thought that was the last game of our career on Saturday and I don’t think any of us thought that we were going to get in. It’s a fresh start for us, and we’re going to take every advantage of it.”

With the Titans as reigning WIAC champions, this was their third consecutive WIAC Championship final appearance and second second-place finish in the past three years.

Before taking on the Falcons, the Titans had to get through the UW-Whitewater Warhawks in the semifinal game of the tournament, which resulted in a 75-61 victory on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Kolf Sports Center.

On Thursday, five Titans scored 10 points or higher in the winning effort.

The Titans got off to an early lead and kept it, in a game that consisted of zero lead changes and the highest lead of the game being 21 points.

Titans’ sophomore guard Brett Wittchow got things started with a layup at 19:42 in the first half. Senior forward Max Schebel kept things going with another layup.

The Warhawks answered with a 3-pointer from guard Drew Bryson to put the score at 4-3 with the Titans leading at 19:04.

The one-point difference was the closest the Warhawks were to the Titans’ lead all night.

Titans’ junior guard Charlie Noone went on an eight-point scoring run, making two 3-pointers and a layup to put the Titans ahead 12-5.

The next four baskets from Oshkosh were from beyond the arc via freshman guard David Vlotho, sophomore guards Kyle Beyak, Ben Boots and junior Noone.

With 12:02 remaining in the first half, the Titans were ahead 24-9.

In the following seven minutes of the game, freshman center Jack Flynn scored 14 of the next 15 points for the Titans, and with 3:46 to play in the first half, the Titans were up 37-23.

To close out the first half, Boots had a layup, and Vlotho made three free throws to take a 42-26 lead at half.

Sophomore guard Brett Wittchow started the second half strong for the Titans, scoring the team’s only six points of the first five minutes of the second half to bring the score to 48-30.

Halfway through the second half, Oshkosh had a comfortable 55-36 lead.

For the remainder of the game, the Titans’ shooting was lower than its first half shooting performance, as the team shot 8-23 overall and made no 3-pointers.

However, it was enough to keep the Warhawks behind by at least 10 points throughout the half, leading to a final score of 75-61.

The victory over the Warhawks sent the Titans to the final game of the WIAC Championship.

In a game where the Titans had a lead of 12 points at one time and where there were four lead changes and two ties, River Falls managed to prevent an upset and won by a score of 59-60.

A turnover by Boots led to a layup to start the game that gave the Falcons the early 0-2 lead. However, a 3-pointer from Noone put the Titans ahead.

Noone scored 19 points and was the Titans’ leading scorer of the night.

A foul from Boots put Falcons’ forward Alex Herink on the line where he made both free throws to give River Falls a 3-4 lead.

A layup from Noone gave the Titans the 5-4 lead with 17:20 remaining in the half.

The Titans then went on an 18-8 run to give them a 23-12 lead halfway through the first half.

A layup from Falcons’ guard Devin Buckley was followed by a layup from Herink, bringing River Falls within eight points.

Noone answered with a three and Wittchow was brought to the line where he made both free throws to extend the lead to nine points. However, the nine-point lead would not last long after a seven-point run from the Falcons put the Titans lead to two points.

With 4:47 remaining in the first half, the score was 28-26.

A 3-pointer from Wittchow would make it 31-26, before both teams fell silent for nearly two minutes.

To close out the first half, Jansen scored four points with a free throw and a three while Flynn made a layup. River Falls answered with a pair of free throws and a three to make the score at halftime 37-31.

With both teams attempting 24 shots in the first half, the Titans were 13-24, while River Falls was 11-24.

UWO got off to a fast start in the second half that started with a three from Boots, which was followed by a layup from Noone.

A 3-pointer from Falcons’ forward Garrett Pearson was answered by a pair of free throws from Flynn that gave the Titans an 11 point lead with a score of 44-33 with 16:18 remaining in the game.

A foul from Titans’ freshman forward Adam Fravert sent Buckley to the line where he made one free throw to bring the Falcons within 10 at 44-34.

The free throw was answered by a layup from Flynn; however, the layup was the last shot the Titans would make for nearly six minutes.

In the nearly six minutes the Titans did not make a shot, the Falcons took advantage of the situation and scored 11 points.

Noone finally broke the Titans’ silence with a layup, and with 9:34 remaining in the game, the Titans’ lead was cut to 48-45.

River Falls countered with a dunk by Herink which was followed by a layup from guard Grant Erickson, and for the first time since the early first half, the Falcons had the lead 48-49 with 8:36 yet to play.

Over the following two minutes, the Falcons scored six points which were finally countered by a three from Fravert.

Noone was fouled on a 3-point attempt where he managed to make all three free throws to put the score at 54-57 with 5:44 to play.

A free throw from Pearson was followed by four points from the Titans that tied the game up at 58-58 with 4:00 remaining.

River Falls’ guard Clay Seifert gave the Falcons the 58-60 lead.

A foul from Pearson sent Schebel to the line to attempt two shots to tie the game with 1:59 remaining; however, he was only able to make one to bring the score to 59-60.

With less than a minute to play, Boots was fouled and sent to the line to attempt two shots, but he was not able to make either of them.

The Titans were able to get one last play off with 00:04 remaining in the game, but a 3-point attempt from Boots did not go down as time expired and the Falcons won 59-60.

Mueller said the loss was tough, but a tournament berth has given the team a new feeling.

“It’s like we got an extra life,” Mueller said. “We know what it’s like for a season to be done, so that’s like motivation. We don’t want it to hurt as bad as it did on Saturday. It’s a big motivation for us.”

The Titans’ first round opponent, Hope College, won its conference with a conference record of 13-1 and an overall record of 21-6.

Despite going into a tough environment, Flynn said the team is excited and ready to take on the challenge.

“There’s a lot of excitement going around,” Flynn said. “It was awesome when we found out we were playing. We’re just excited to go and play on Friday.”

Juckem said the team has grown since its loss to River Falls even before they found out they were in the tournament.

“After our game ended on Saturday guys asked what they thought our chances were, and I was a little pessimistic,” Juckem said. “We had a very emotional locker room. Emotional, but an awesome locker room. The powerful things that were said, the love that was on display in that locker room was something we’ll never forget.”

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