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Titans Suffer Narrow Loss To Blugolds

Nikki Arneson scored 13 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals against the Blugolds.
Nikki Arneson scored 13 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals against the Blugolds.

Anna Graaskamp's jumper with 18 seconds left proved to be the difference as UW-Eau Claire escaped with a 62-60 win over the UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team Wednesday (Jan. 15) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (8-7, 1-3 WIAC) did not trail in the fourth quarter until Graaskamp scored in the lane for a 59-57 Blugold advantage with 55 seconds to play. Leah Porath answered with a 3-pointer 16 seconds later that provided the Titans a 60-59 edge, but Graaskamp scored her game-high 18th point when she gave UW-Eau Claire the lead for good at 61-60 on a jumper near the free throw line.

UW-Eau Claire's Katie Essen was fouled after grabbing a rebound on a missed 3-pointer by UW-Oshkosh's Olivia Campbell. Essen split a pair of free throws to extend the Blugolds' lead to 62-60 with three seconds remaining. Following a UW-Oshkosh timeout, Porath's attempt at a game-winning 3-pointer from the right corner was off the mark as time expired.

UW-Eau Claire (8-6, 3-1 WIAC), which was swept by the Titans last season, won for just the second time in the last 10 meetings in the series. The Blugolds picked up their first win over the Titans in Oshkosh since Jan. 17, 2015.

Graaskamp shot 9-for-13 from the field on the way to leading all players in scoring while recording five rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals.

Hallee Hoeppner, the reigning WIAC Player of the Year, added 12 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals for the Blugolds.

Blugold starter Jessie Ruden and reserve Megan Baer chipped in nine and eight points, respectively, as the duo combined to shoot 5-for-11 from 3-point range. Ruden paced UW-Eau Claire with four assists.

Porath, who did not attempt a shot during the first half, scored each of her team-leading 14 points after intermission for the Titans. Porath went 3-for-9 from the floor, including 2-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc, after entering the contest leading the conference with 19.8 points per game, a .522 field goal percentage, a .484 3-point percentage and 30 made 3-pointers.

Nikki Arneson had 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals for UW-Oshkosh, which also received seven points apiece off the bench from Emily Higgins and Karsyn Rueth. Campbell, the WIAC leader with a 1.97 assist-to-turnover ratio before Wednesday, finished with five rebounds, a career-high eight assists, a pair of steals and one turnover.

Ten different Titans scored, including reserves Brooke Freitag with six points and Abby Kaiser with five as the UW-Oshkosh bench outscored UW-Eau Claire's, 24-14.

UW-Eau Claire shot 47.1 percent (24-51) from the floor, 27.8 percent (5-18) from 3-point range and 81.8 percent (9-11) at the free throw line. The Blugolds, who went into the game leading the league with a .733 free throw percentage, held advantages of 18-15 in assists, 6-3 in blocks and 8-7 in steals.

UW-Oshkosh, the defending WIAC champion, shot 17 of 54 (.315) from the floor, 9-for-26 (.346) from beyond the arc and 17 of 28 (.607) at the foul line. The Titans, who held edges of 37-33 in rebounds and 10-13 in turnovers, were leading the NCAA Division III with 11.6 turnovers per game and ranked 11th in the country with a 1.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. UW-Oshkosh, which collected a season-best 15 offensive rebounds, maintained a lead until the final minute despite compiling its lowest field goal percentage of the season.

UW-Eau Claire scored the first five points of the game on the way to building leads of 22-11 after one quarter and 33-28 at intermission.

Trailing 35-28 early in the third quarter, UW-Oshkosh took its first lead of the game at 39-38 following a 3-pointer from Arneson with 6:45 to go in the period. The Titans, who owned a 49-47 advantage heading into the final quarter, did not trail between Arneson's go-ahead 3-pointer in the third period until Graaskamp provided the Blugolds the lead for good with under a minute to play in the game.

Porath made a pair of free throws to up UW-Oshkosh's lead to 56-51 with 5:45 remaining in the game, but Maizie Deihl drilled a jumper to pull the Blugolds within 57-55 at the 3:14 mark ahead of Graaskamp's jumper that knotted the score at 57 with 93 seconds left. UW-Oshkosh, which shot 2-for-10 from the floor during the final period, missed five straight field goal attempts before Porath hit from 3-point range to give the Titans their 60-59 lead with 39 seconds remaining.

UW-Oshkosh (8-6, 1-3 WIAC) travels to UW-River Falls on Saturday (Jan. 18).