Men’s basketball batters 2 conference rivals

Jacob Link, Asst. Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team won back-to-back home games against UW-Platteville and UW-Stout on Wednesday Feb. 2, and Saturday Feb. 5, respectively.
This was the first time Oshkosh played Stout this year as the Jan. 15 game was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.

Led by Junior guard Eddie Muench, who scored 19 points to go along with five rebounds, the Titans (17-3, 7-2 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) defeated the second ranked Pointers (18-2, 7-2 WIAC) 65-51. UWO followed up with an 84-57 win on Saturday against the Blue Devils (14-7, 5-5 WIAC) in a game the Titans controlled from start to finish.

In Wednesday’s win against the Pioneers, UWO fell behind early but overcame the deficit thanks to strong defensive play.
Junior forward Levi Borchert put the Titans ahead 21-20 with a layup with 4:27 to go in the first half, sparking a run of 11 unanswered points for Oshkosh. Muench was on fire from deep, draining three three-pointers in 32 seconds during the 11-point run.

UWO went on to lead the game by at least eight points for the remaining 23 minutes of play. By halftime the Titans led by 10 and would see that number increase to 16 with less 15 minutes to play. Platteville cut the deficit to nine temporarily, but could not get a run together, shooting just 32.8% from the floor and 15% from three. The 59 points the Pioneers scored are the lowest for them since they scored 58 in a win against Whitewater on Feb. 13, 2019.
“After our loss to Eau Claire, we didn’t have the defensive presence we wanted to have, so we really had an emphasis this week in practice to be better defensively, and I think it showed tonight,” Borchert said.

The Titans finished the game shooting 47.1% from the floor and 43.5% from deep. With his 19 points, Muench posted his 14th game in double figures this season. Borchert finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, recording his 10th double-double on the year, a WIAC best. Sophomore Cole Booth scored 12 points of his own, going three of four from deep, while recording his fifth double-digit game this year. Booth has scored over 10 points in three of his last four games.
With the win, UWO swept the season series against Platteville and ended the Pioneers’ eight game road win streak. Attendance for the game was 1,094, the most at a UW Oshkosh men’s basketball game since 2014.

In Saturday’s win against the Blue Devils, UWO took the lead early and never looked back. With under 12 minutes to go in the first half, Oshkosh went on a 19-4 scoring run, building the Titan lead to 38-21. Senior guard Hunter Plamann scored seven points during the scoring run which saw UWO score on seven straight possessions.

Oshkosh maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. At the break the Titan lead was 44-31. Oshkosh would continue to build a larger lead throughout the second half. For most of the game UWO shot over 65% from the field, and at one occasion was shooting 72%. Conversely, Stout’s shots would not fall as the Blue Devils shot under 40% most of the way throughout the first and second halves.

The biggest lead for the Titans was 84-54 with 1:56 remaining in the game. The white flag was raised by Stout soon after, and both teams gave their benches playing time. The game would finish 84-57 UW Oshkosh.

Plamann led the team in scoring, putting up 19 points, six assists and went 3-5 from deep. Booth had a career night, scoring 18 points to go along with three assists and shot 67% from three-point range. Muench and Borchert both had 15 points for the Titans. The starters for Oshkosh outscored the entire Stout team 69-57.
When asked about how the Titans are able to dominate the paint Borchert said, “In practice we always talk about getting it in the paint. It’s such a big emphasis that I feel like we can do it any night we want but it’s just when we decide [we want] to and tonight we decided to pound it in the paint.”

Once again, the game was won on the defensive side of the ball as UWO forced a Stout team that averages 89.8 points a game to just 57 points. The Titans also held Stout, who leads the WIAC in three-pointers made, to a measly 3-13 (23%) from three-point land. The 27-point win margin was the largest for Oshkosh against Stout since Feb. 25, 2003, when they defeated the Blue Devils 103-70. UWO has now won nine consecutive games against Stout and have won 17 of their last 18 home games.
“We just talk about [defence] all the time. That’s what we pride ourselves on, the defensive end. We talk about defence basically every day,” said Muench on the team’s strong defensive play this year.

Both Muench and Borchert said the addition of the Titan Thunder marching band has proved to be important for the team.
“[The band] is awesome. We got them cheering during the game, playing during halftime, playing during the pregame, it’s awesome. It brings a lot of electricity to the game and [we’re] absolutely grateful for them,” said Muench.

With the back-to-back wins, Oshkosh moved up to number three in the Top 25 rankings. The Titans will look to win three straight as they face UW-Stevens Point on Wednesday, Feb. 9, in Stevens Point.