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Titans Defeat Unbeaten Eagles In WIAC Opener

Will Mahoney scored 21 points while recording career bests with seven rebounds and five assists against the Eagles.
Will Mahoney scored 21 points while recording career bests with seven rebounds and five assists against the Eagles.

Will Mahoney paced all players with 21 points and a season-high five assists, Jack Flynn added a season-best 20 points and the UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team led wire to wire en route to handing unbeaten and nationally ranked UW-La Crosse a 79-63 loss during the WIAC opener Saturday (Jan. 4) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (7-5, 1-0 WIAC), the defending NCAA Division III and WIAC champion, scored the first six points of the game before going on a 22-4 run to take a 40-20 lead late in the first half. The Titans, who led by as many as 21 points, owned at least a six-point advantage for the final 27:51 on the way to avenging their only WIAC regular season loss from last season and winning their 10th consecutive conference home game.

Mahoney shot 7-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, and established a new season high with seven rebounds. He has now scored in double figures on six occasions this season and four times in the past five games.

Flynn, who surpassed his previous season high of 19 points, went 9 of 18 from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds, marking his 65th career double-digit scoring effort.

Four Titans scored in double figures as Levi Borchert and Eddie Muench had 12 points apiece off the bench. Borchert tied his season best scoring output, shooting 6-for-8 from the floor and pulling down seven rebounds, while Muench went 5-for-11 from the field and dished out four assists.

Eric Peterson chipped in seven points and eight rebounds for UW-Oshkosh, which also received a game-leading nine rebounds from Adam Fravert.

UW-Oshkosh shot 50 percent (33-66) from the field and 37.5 percent (6-16) from 3-point range while finishing with considerable advantages of 48-28 in rebounds and 16-4 in assists. The Titans have now shot 50 percent or better from the floor five times this season and outrebounded 13 of their last 14 opponents. UW-Oshkosh went into the contest leading the WIAC in both scoring and rebounding at 84.4 points and 44.7 boards per game, respectively, and average rebounding margin at +8.9 per contest.

UW-La Crosse (10-1, 0-1 WIAC), ranked 15th in the country by D3hoops.com, entered the game as one of the last six unbeaten Division III teams. The Eagles' 10-0 start, which resulted in the program's highest ever ranking in the D3hoops.com poll, was their best since going 12-0 to open the 1964-65 campaign. UW-La Crosse has now lost five of its last six meetings with UW-Oshkosh.

The Eagles were held to 38.7 percent (24-62) shooting from the field and a season-low 18.2 percent (4-22) from beyond the 3-point arc after entering the contest third in the nation with a .444 3-point percentage. UW-La Crosse concluded the game with narrow advantages of 11-14 in turnovers, 9-6 in steals and 2-1 in blocks.

Terek Nesheim went 5-for-10 from the floor and led the Eagles with 15 points.

UW-La Crosse's Seth Anderson had 13 points off the bench while starter Ethan Anderson contributed 11 points and four steals. Ethan Anderson made one of three attempts from 3-point range after heading into the game ranked third nationally by shooting 53.8 percent from beyond the arc.

UW-Oshkosh began the game with six straight points, including four from Flynn, until UW-La Crosse got on the scoreboard via a Wyatt Cook jumper at the 16:43 mark of the first half. Clinging to an 18-16 lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the opening period, the Titans created separation with a 20-4 run that spanned more than six minutes.

Mahoney sparked UW-Oshkosh's run with a layup and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions before Muench converted back-to-back 3-point shots and Flynn capped the blitz with a layup for a 40-20 UW-Oshkosh lead with 2:23 left in the first half. Mahoney accounted for eight points during the Titans' 22-4 run while Borchert and Muench added six apiece.

After UW-Oshkosh built its largest lead of 21 points at 42-21, UW-La Crosse finished the final two minutes of the opening period with an 11-2 run to cut its deficit to 44-32 at intermission.

UW-La Crosse pulled within 53-47 with under 14 minutes left, but the Titans put the game away with a string of eight straight points, including the last four from Flynn, for a 61-47 advantage. UW-Oshkosh then went on to lead by at least 10 points for the last 11:41 of the game.

UW-Oshkosh, which improved to 3-1 against nationally ranked opponents this season, remains at home to host ninth-ranked UW-Platteville on Wednesday (Jan. 8) in Kolf Sports Center.