UW-River Falls Secures Title; Automatic NCAA Bid - Mar 2, 2017
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh's 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark as the Titans suffered a 60-59 loss at nationally ranked UW-River Falls during the title game of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Men's Basketball Championship (presented by Culver's) at Karges Center on Feb. 25.
UW-River Falls (24-3), ranked sixth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, earns the WIAC's automatic berth to the 64-team national tournament that begins March 3. The Falcons, seeded first in the league tournament, secured their second WIAC Championship crown in program history and first since 2012.
UW-River Falls reclaimed a 60-58 lead on a jumper near the free throw line by Clay Seifert (6'2''-G) with less than three minutes remaining.
UW-Oshkosh's Max Schebel (6'5''-F) split a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to pull the Titans within 60-59 with 1:59 left. The teams exchanged turnovers on the next two possessions, and Titan Ben Boots (6'1''-G) was fouled after a steal by Adam Fravert (6'7''-F).
Boots missed both shots at the foul line with under one minute to play, but Seifert misfired on a jump shot to give UW-Oshkosh one last chance with 12.9 seconds to go. However, a 3-point attempt from the left wing by Boots was off the mark at the buzzer.
Second-seeded UW-Oshkosh (17-10), the defending WIAC tournament champion, had its nine-game road winning streak snapped despite holding the Falcons to their lowest scoring output of the season.
In last year's WIAC Championship final, the Titans ousted UW-River Falls by a 66-63 score in Oshkosh.
UW-River Falls concluded the Saturday's contest with slim advantages in field goal (.423 to .422) and free throw (.800 to .722) percentages, rebounds (32-29), turnovers (14-9) and steals (8-4).
Garret Pearson (6'5''-F) notched his fifth double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Falcons, who also received 12 points from Brennan Witt (6'4''-F) and 11 points from Alex Herink.
UW-Oshkosh's Charlie Noone led all players with 19 points by connecting on 6 of 9 shots from the field and all five of his attempts at the free throw line.
Boots added 13 points and three assists for the Titans, while Adam Fravert (6'7''-F) and Brett Wittchow (6'4''-G) chipped in seven points apiece.
Noone accounted for all five points as UW-Oshkosh took a 5-4 lead that it wouldn't relinquish until the 8:36 mark of the second half.
UW-Oshkosh made nine of its first 10 shots from the floor on the way to building a 23-12 lead midway through the opening half. Boots and Noone combined for 17 points, including 10 from Boots, during the Titans' game-opening run.
UW-River Falls cut its deficit to 28-26 with less than five minutes to play in the first period, but UW-Oshkosh went into intermission with a 37-31 advantage.
The Titans shot 54.2 percent (13-24) from the field during the opening stanza, including 46.2 percent (6-13) from 3-point range, while UW-River Falls converted 11 of 24 field goal attempts (45.8 percent) and all six of its shots from the free throw line.
UW-Oshkosh built its largest lead of the game of 12 points at 46-34 following a layup by Jack Flynn (6'8''-C) with 15 minutes left.
UW-River Falls missed 10 of its first 11 field goal attempts of the second half before making eight baskets in a row to reclaim a 55-48 lead at the 6:59 mark. The Falcons' 21-2 scoring run, aided by 1-for-10 shooting from the floor by UW-Oshkosh, was sparked by eight points from Witt.
UW-Oshkosh, which was making its third consecutive appearance in the WIAC Championship final, rallied to tie the score at 58 with 4:00 remaining behind five points apiece from Noone and Fravert during a span of less than three minutes.
UW-River Falls and UW-Oshkosh split two games during the regular season. The Falcons prevailed by a 79-57 score on Jan. 21 in Oshkosh, while the Titans secured a 65-60 victory in River Falls on Feb. 4 to hand UW-River Falls its lone home loss of the season.
The Titans had also defeated the Falcons in each of their four previous meetings in the WIAC Championship.
UW-Oshkosh's record against nationally ranked teams falls to 6-5 on the season.
WIAC Tournament Final: UW-River Falls - UW-Oshkosh 60-59
WIAC Tournament Semifinals:
UW-Oshkosh - UW-Whitewater 75-61
UW-River Falls - UW-La Crosse 68-55
Courtesy of WIAC Sports