UW-Oshkosh (18-1, 8-0 WIAC), ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, reclaimed the lead for good at 52-50 following a three-point play from Wittchow with 10:57 remaining. Clinging to a 64-61 lead with 5:37 left, a three-point-play by Jack Flynn provided the Titans a 67-71 advantage at the 5:12 mark, and UW-Oshkosh led by at least four points the rest of the way.
The Titans, who extended their school-record winning streak to 17 games, continued the best start to a season in the program's 121-year history. UW-Oshkosh, which reached the title game of the NCAA Division III Championship last season, is one win shy of matching its best conference start of 9-0 established during the 1967-68 campaign.
UW-Oshkosh now owns a one-game lead in the league standings over 22nd-ranked UW-La Crosse (14-5, 7-1 WIAC) with six contests remaining. The Titans' 17-game winning streak is the ninth longest in WIAC history.
The Titans also earned their fourth straight win over the Falcons, including a 91-56 decision on Jan. 12 in Oshkosh.
Fravert accounted for 17 of the Titans' 39 first-half points while Wittchow contributed 13 of the team's 41 points during the second period. Fravert and Wittchow finished the game with 24 and 18 points, respectively.
Fravert shot 5-for-10 from 3-point range and 8-for-22 from the field overall while adding a game-high three blocks and three steals on the way to his 39th double-digit scoring effort of his career. His five made 3-pointers and 10 attempts from beyond the arc are career highs. Fravert also increased his WIAC-leading block total to 38 on the year.
Wittchow went 6-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line, en route to his 49th career game with at least 10 points.
Ben Boots had 14 points, eight rebounds, a team-leading three assists and a pair of steals for the Titans, who also received nine points and a game-best 11 rebounds from Jack Flynn, and seven points in 11 minutes from reserve David Vlotho. Boots, who committed just one turnover, entered the night with a WIAC-best 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio.
UW-Oshkosh shot 41.4 percent (24-58) from the floor, 48.1 percent (13-27) from 3-point range and 73.1 percent (19-26) at the free throw line. The Titans have made at least 11 3-point baskets on eight occasions this season.
The Titans held slim advantages in assists (12-10), turnovers (7-10), blocks (4-2) and steals (6-4) while the Falcons owned a 46-35 rebounding advantage to become the first team in 21 games to outrebound UW-Oshkosh.
UW-Oshkosh, which scored at least 80 points for the 13th time this season, entered Saturday ranked seventh in the country with a +11.2 average rebounding margin, eighth with a +19.0 average scoring margin and 10th with a 1.52 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Titans were also leading the WIAC in scoring (85.2), made 3-pointers (175), rebounds (41.1) and assists (16.2) per game, blocks (79) and field goal percentage defense (.407).
UW-River Falls shot 42 percent (29-69) from the field, 23.5 percent (4-17) from beyond the 3-point arc and 53.8 percent (7-13) from the free throw line. The Falcons, who allowed a season-high made 3-pointers, collected 17 offensive rebounds after heading into the game averaging a WIAC-best 12.4 per contest.
Austin Heidecker led the Falcons with 18 points and seven rebounds. He went into the game averaging a WIAC-high 10.8 rebounds.
Jack Stensgard added 17 points for UW-River Falls while Ross Ingersoll and Julian Jackson chipped in 13 and 10, respectively. The Falcons' Clay Seifert contributed four points, seven rebounds and a game-leading six assists.
UW-River Falls raced out to a 13-2 lead during the opening seven minutes of the game as UW-Oshkosh made just one of its first 10 field goal attempts until Fravert drained a 3-pointer that cut the Titans' deficit to 13-5 and snapped their scoreless stretch of nearly six minutes.
The Falcons led by as many as 13 points (20-7) following a dunk by Jackson with 9:30 left in the first half, but UW-Oshkosh responded with a 15-2 scoring run to tie the score at 22. Each of the Titans' 15 points during the run that spanned just 97 seconds came via 3-pointers as Fravert sank a pair of long-range jumpers while Boots, Vlotho and Wittchow added one each.
Fravert converted two free throws to give the Titans a 31-26 lead with 4:07 to play in the first half, and Boots later drained a 3-pointer for a 39-35 UW-Oshkosh advantage at intermission.
UW-River Falls scored the first six points of the second half to reclaim a 41-39 advantage and later held a 50-49 lead with 12:19 remaining, but UW-Oshkosh regained control by tallying 11 of the next 13 points, including six from Wittchow, for a 60-52 lead at the 9:07 mark.
UW-Oshkosh went on to lead by as many as 11 points on two occasions during the finals minutes. The Titans upped their advantage to 76-65 after a Fravert 3-pointer with 2:19 to go and a free throw by Fravert with 42 seconds left that created the game's final score.
The victory allowed UW-Oshkosh interim head coach Matt Lewis to remain as the active leader in winning percentage among all 1,098 active NCAA men's basketball coaches across all three divisions at .947 with a 18-1 record during his first season at the helm.
The Titans host UW-Whitewater on Wednesday (Jan. 30) in Kolf Sports Center. UW-Oshkosh defeated the Warhawks, 82-75, on Jan. 16 in Whitewater.
Photo by Steve Frommell, D3Photography.com