UWO men prepare for WIAC tournament

Morgan Feltz / the Advance-Titan -- Quinn Steckbauer dribbles the basketball Feb.11.

Morgan Feltz / the Advance-Titan — Quinn Steckbauer dribbles the basketball Feb.11.

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team, Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) regular-season champions, will look to repeat as conference tournament champs when they take on the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds in the second round of the WIAC tournament.

The Titans, the number one overall seed in the tournament for the second straight year, secured a first-round bye in the WIAC tournament after defeating UW-La Crosse Feb. 11, automatically advancing UWO to the semifinals of the tournament.

Oshkosh will once again have home court-advantage throughout the tournament and will face off against the Blugolds at the Kolf Sports Center Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The game was moved from Feb. 22 due to the winter storm hitting Oshkosh that day.

UWO’s only conference loss came at the hands of UWEC earlier this season, with the Titans falling to the Blugolds 51-48 Jan. 4 at the W.L. Zorn Arena in a game which saw the visitors shoot just 37% from the floor. Oshkosh, who is undefeated at the Kolf Sports Center, got its revenge at home Feb. 1, when UWO easily defeated Eau Claire 74-63 behind a career-high 33 points from guard Hunter Plamann.

The Titans enter the WIAC tournament as the top-ranked defense in the conference, allowing just 62.2 points per game and holding opponents to 42.3% shooting. Oshkosh, who scores an average of 72.5 points per game, is led by senior forward Levi Borchert who leads the conference in rebounds, averaging 10.6 per game, and is averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game.

In their last game, UWO scored a season-high 96 points in a 96-76 rout of UW-Stevens Point Feb. 15 at the Quandt Fieldhouse.

The Titans, who secured a 20-win season for the fifth year in a row, fell behind in the first seconds of the game, but stormed back on a 16-4 scoring run and never looked back en route to the victory. Midway through the first half, a Plamann jumper kickstarted a 19-0 scoring run and UWO opened up a 37-10 lead. Oshkosh, who shot 60% from the field in the first half, had a 9-0 scoring run at the end of the period and the Titans went into the break with a 29-point lead.

For much of the second half, the two teams traded baskets until the Pointers went on a 9-0 run after UWO emptied its bench. Oshkosh maintained at least a 20-point lead for the entire second half to cruise to their ninth straight victory against UWSP.

UWO’s Quinn Steckbauer scored a game-high 22 points in the win while Borchert scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds.

The Blugolds entered the semifinals of the WIAC tournament on a four-game winning streak and defeated UW-Platteville 72-70 in the first round of the tournament Feb. 20. After halftime, Eau Claire went on a 9-2 run and never looked back, holding off a late push from the Pioneers to secure the victory.

UWEC is led by senior forward Brock Voigt, who is third in the WIAC in scoring, averaging 17.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Blugolds have both the third ranked offense and defense in the conference, holding opponents to 67.1 points per game and scoring 74.6 points per game.

If they win, the Titans will take on either UW-La Crosse or UW-Whitewater in the WIAC tournament championship at the Kolf Sports Center Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. Check the UWO athletics website for more information about the semifinals and finals of the WIAC tournament.