Titans take over basketball- Men’s

Neal Hogden

[media-credit id=188 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team had a busy week with three games over that span. It went 2-1, picking up wins against UW-Whitewater and UW-Eau Claire and falling to UW-Platteville.

@ UW-Whitewater 2/7

The Titans entered Wednesday’s contest with UW-Whitewater tied with the Warhawks for third in the conference.

The first half was a highly contested one as neither team could get a lead larger than seven points. Sophomore Adam Fravert came out firing as he scored six of the Titans’ first eight points. Fravert finished leading the Titans in scoring in the first half with eight points.

The Warhawks used a guard-heavy offensive scheme in the first half, as UWW junior guard Andre Brown scored 18 first-half points to keep the game close.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Titans led the contest at the break, 33-32.

After Whitewater made some adjustments, they held the lead for most of the second half, but the Titans didn’t allow them to get too far out of range. As the Titans faced their largest deficit of the game with just over nine minutes left to go, Fravert made a driving layup to trim the lead to five points.

UWO junior and leading-scorer Ben Boots then took the game into his own hands. Boots scored 14 points over the final eight minutes and 55 seconds to guide his team to the 69-67 victory.

Five missed free throws over the last five minutes of the game gave Whitewater a shot to tie or take the lead during the final seconds, but a last-second shot attempt was off the mark.

Vs. UW-Eau Claire 2/3

UWO hosted the Blugolds of Eau Claire on Saturday, staving off a late comeback effort by the visitors to take a 77-72 victory. The Titans started out on fire, hitting their first five shots, with a pair of threes from junior Brett Wittchow, and Fravert adding one of his own.

After building a 13-0 lead over the first five minutes of the game, Oshkosh relied on more strong shooting to carry a 14-point lead into halftime. After some adjustments during the break, Eau Claire dialed up the pressure on defense, forcing eight second-half turnovers. This allowed the Blugolds to close the Titans’ lead to just one point with 15 seconds left in the contest.

Stellar free-throw shooting by Boots ensured UWO a victory down the stretch.

Wittchow led all scorers with 25 points, taking six shots from behind the arc and making five of them. He added four rebounds and three assists. Boots contributed 17 points, shooting 10-12 from the free-throw line.

Fravert made some key athletic plays, swinging the momentum in the Titans’ favor. Fravert had a key chase-down block late in the first half to stifle the Blugolds’ first-half comeback attempt. He contributed 15 points while shooting 7-12 from the field.

UW-Platteville 1/31

The Titans lost a tough game in front of the home crowd last Wednesday against UW-Platteville, 68-62. The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is largely regarded as the best conference in Division III, and it showed as both Oshkosh and Platteville were ranked as they did battle last Wednesday.

Pioneer freshman Quentin Shields scored 19 points off the bench to propel the team to a victory over the Titans.

UWO sophomore forward Jack Flynn led all scorers with 21 points, shooting six of nine from the field and hitting 9 out of 10 free throws. After struggling from beyond the three-point line, the Titans had to make a conscious effort to get the ball to Flynn in the post.

Ben Boots poured in 14 points and added seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals throughout the game. After his (and the rest of the team’s) three point shots weren’t falling, UWO had to change up their game plan and get Flynn the ball down low.

“We’ve gotta play through Jack all the time,” Boots said. “He is the best post player in this country so we’ve gotta get him as many touches as we can no matter if our shots are falling or not.”

Flynn had to credit the depth of the WIAC as Platteville is right there at the top, challenging Oshkosh and Stevens Point for the lead.

“It’s just a great conference,” Flynn said. “Every night out you have to bring your ‘A’ game otherwise you won’t come out with a win.”

Flynn’s solid night ended with him sitting in double figures in both points and rebounds.

Boots also praised Platteville and the rest of the WIAC.

“It’s the best conference in the country in Division III” Boots said. “Every night out is a battle; you know they’re going to give you their best game and that’s just what you get every night out of the WIAC.”

Head coach Pat Juckem was excited the team was able to play inside out but wanted to see more of their three point shots fall.

“We have to play inside out,” Juckem said. “We had some good looks and we have guys who are capable of shooting it but we didn’t shoot it well at all from three tonight.”

“Our biggest bugaboo right now is our turnovers,” Juckem said. “We had 19 turnovers tonight and 13 in the first half. ”

The Titans will be in action again on Saturday for their last home game this season against UW-La Crosse and will travel to Stevens Point on Wednesday to try to take down the nationally ranked Pointers.

Shooting it for Luke

Although the Titans lost the game against Platteville, there was an overshadowing event that was bigger than basketball going on. Luke Peters has been an integral part of the team over the past four years, providing inspiration and giving the team something and someone to look up to. Juckem has especially taken Peters under his wing.

“He’s been inspiring,” Juckem said. “He’s a reminder of how fourtunate we all have it.”

Throughout the game, T-shirts and raffle tickets were sold with the proceeds going to the Fox Valley Brain Coalition.

Peters is a freshman at St. Mary Central High School in Neenah and was adopted by the team through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Boots is one of the athletes who has really taken to Peters and his cause.

“Luke’s meant a lot,” Boots said. “All the things that he’s gone through really puts a lot of things into perspective for us and reminds you that even after a tough game like this, we really have to take note of the bigger picture.”