Titans make playoff push

Neal Hogden, Assistant Sports Editor

The Oshkosh men’s basketball team wrapped up its conference schedule with a 91-70 win on Saturday in Menomonie against UW-Stout. The team then took that momentum into its Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff game against UW-La Crosse on Wednesday, coming out with a 76-74 win.

Vs. UW-La Crosse

The Titans were able to hold off an upset bid by the UW-La Crosse Eagles in the first round of the WIAC tournament on Wednesday, winning the game on a layup by sophomore forward Jack Flynn with four seconds left.

Flynn started off scoring six of Oshkosh’s first nine points, while fellow sophomore Adam Fravert scored eight in the opening minutes of the game.

The Titans lead ballooned up to nine points halfway through the first half before La Crosse started to reel them back in. After an electric four-point play from junior guard Ben Boots, La Crosse’s Ben Meinholz drove down the court and drained a last-second three-point shot to make it 38-35 in favor of the Titans at halftime.

Coming out of the break, La Crosse seized its first lead of the game off a layup by Lane Von Rueden just one minute and 15 seconds into the half.

After having six turnovers in the first half, the Titans gave up three possessions in the first seven minutes of the second half. Those turnovers led to six points for the Eagles as they opened up a seven point lead with 12:34 left in the game.

La Crosse’s lead would reach 14 points at the 10:18 mark and would be the largest lead for either team in the contest.

UWO got back into the game by way of two timely three-pointers by Boots. Free throws also played a major role in the Titan comeback as they repeatedly got the ball down low and forced the Eagles to foul.

At the 2:46 mark, UWO’s Brett Wittchow stole the ball from UW-La Crosse’s Brendon Manning which led to a breakaway dunk by sophomore Adam Fravert to tie the game at 70.

Two-straight jumpers by Meinholz forced UWO to make four free throws to keep the game tied with one possession to decide whether the game went into overtime or the Titans would be victorious.

After the Titans lost the lead just minutes into the second half, they finally regained it with the last-second shot by Flynn.
Flynn finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds to lead the Titans in both categories.

@ UW-Stout

UWO had a field day from behind the arc last Saturday in Menomonie. Against Stout, the Titans shot a scorching 67.7 percent from three, taking 31 shots and making 21 of them. Junior guard Brett Wittchow made a career high eight threes and scored a team-high 24 points in the victory.

Wittchow said he was impressed with the way the team moved the ball and was able to find the open shooter.

“I think our ball movement that game was better than it’s been,” Wittchow said. “We had really good ball movement towards the beginning of the year, then we kinda lost it but it seems like it’s coming back.”

Boots also had a good day from three-point range as he splashed seven of his nine shots, finishing with 21 points on the day.

Fravert had a career day, nearly achieving a triple-double, finishing with seven points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Fravert was impressed with the way the Titans were able to move the ball against Stout.

“That was probably one of our best games passing the ball,” Fravert said. “They were kind of off of us on defense so it was a lot easier to pass it.”

Wittchow knows the Stout game was a huge boost for their confidence going into the postseason.

“After you have a game where you shoot that well, it gives you a ton of confidence and trust as well,” Wittchow said.

Head coach Pat Juckem was more impressed with the passing ability of his team rather than their ability to shoot and make the open shots.

“What we focused on was how we arrived at those really good shots,” Juckem said. “Trusting and making the correct read is just how we want to play and we talk about ‘sharing the sugar’; it’s a fun way to play.”

The Titans will play Friday night at Stevens Point in the WIAC championship semifinals. The winner of that game will face the winner of UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls for the WIAC championship.