Leah Porath led all players with 17 points and Nikki Arneson scored nine of her 11 in the fourth quarter as the UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team never trailed during the second half en route to snapping nationally ranked UW-Whitewater's 14-game winning streak Saturday (Jan. 25) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh (11-7, 4-3 WIAC) took the lead for good at 25-24 with 3:37 remaining in the second quarter. The Titans later increased their advantage to 37-27 midway through the third period and 47-37 with eight minutes left in the game before securing the victory by making 12 of 14 free throws over the final 4:22.
The defending WIAC champion Titans also won the previous meeting between the teams, cruising to a 69-40 victory over the Warhawks in last year's conference tournament title game in Oshkosh.
UW-Whitewater (16-2, 6-1 WIAC), ranked sixth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, suffered its first loss since a 70-69 overtime setback to 10th-ranked DePauw University (Ind.) on Nov. 16. The Warhawks' 14-game winning streak was tied for the 10th longest by a WIAC team. UW-Oshkosh boasts five of the nine longest winning streaks in WIAC history, including a league record 41 in a row during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
The Warhawks, who entered the day pacing the conference in both scoring offense and defense, led for less than three minutes during the first half and were held to their lowest scoring effort of the season. The Titans improved to 11-0 when holding opponents to less than 60 points.
UW-Oshkosh's win Saturday marked its best against a ranked opponent since the Titans knocked off fifth-ranked Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.), 72-66, during the second round of the Division III Championship on March 8, 2014.
Porath, the WIAC's leading scorer at 19.2 points per game entering Saturday, shot 5-for-15 from the field, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range, on the way to her 22nd consecutive double-digit scoring performance.
Arneson, who was held scoreless in the first half, went 7-for-8 at the free throw line and accounted for each of the Titans' last nine points over the final 79 seconds.
The balanced UW-Oshkosh offense featured nine scorers, including Brooke Freitag with seven points and Emily Higgins, Jenna Jorgensen and Karsyn Rueth with six each. Higgins, Porath and Emily Miller all grabbed a team-best six rebounds. Freitag recorded a career high-tying four steals.
UW-Oshkosh's Olivia Campbell contributed five points, four rebounds and a game-high five assists after entering the day with a WIAC-leading 2.35 assist-to-turnover ratio.
UW-Oshkosh concluded the game shooting 36 percent (18-50) from the field, 26.3 percent (5-19) from 3-point range and 70 percent (21-30) at the free throw line. The Titans, who went into the day leading the country with 11.2 turnovers per game and ranked 11th nationally with a 1.18 assist-to-turnover ratio, held advantages of 38-35 in rebounds, 11-9 in assists, 16-19 in turnovers and 11-7 in steals. UW-Oshkosh tied its season best in free throw attempts and reached double figures in steals for the sixth time on the year.
UW-Whitewater shot 22 of 58 (.379) from the floor, 5-for-16 (.313) from beyond the 3-point arc and 2-for-6 (.333) at the foul line. The Warhawks, who held a 6-2 edge in blocks, went into the day as the WIAC leader in scoring (71.2), scoring defense (52.4), scoring margin (+18.8), field goal percentage (.438), field goal percentage defense (.327), free throw percentage (.746), turnovers forced (20.2) and steals (11.0) per game, turnover margin (+4.5), and blocks (89).
The Warhawks, who established a new season low in made free throws, were held to under a .400 field goal percentage for the first time since Nov. 20.
Aleah Grundahl paced UW-Whitewater with 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Becky Raeder added 10 points and three steals for the Warhawks, who also received eight points off the bench from Courtney Oomens and seven points apiece from starter Johanna Taylor and reserve Yssa Sto. Domingo. Raeder, the WIAC leader in free throw percentage at .879, did not attempt a free throw while Taylor, the conference leader in blocks with 33, did not reject a shot in 18 minutes played and committed seven turnovers before fouling out.
Grundahl hit a jumper for UW-Whitewater to open the scoring, but Porath tied the score on a jumper of her own and Freitag converted a three-point play for a 5-2 UW-Oshkosh lead with 8:16 left in the first quarter. The Titans, who owned a 17-12 advantage after one period, did not trail again until Raeder sank a 3-point shot for a 21-20 Warhawk edge at the 5:57 mark of the second quarter.
Trailing 24-23 late in the second quarter, UW-Oshkosh reclaimed the lead for good at 25-24 on a Higgins layup with 3:37 left before halftime and went into intermission with a 26-24 advantage.
UW-Oshkosh created separation with seven consecutive points to increase its lead to 37-27 midway through the third quarter and headed into the final period with an eight-point cushion (43-35).
The Titans, who led by at least four points for the last 17 minutes of the contest, then built their largest lead of 12 points at 47-35 following an offensive rebound and layup by Miller at the 8:25 mark of the fourth quarter.
UW-Whitewater went on a 10-3 run to cut its deficit to 53-49 after another Raeder 3-pointer, but Arneson guided UW-Oshkosh to the upset victory with a layup for a 55-49 lead with 79 seconds to play and seven straight free throws over the final 56 seconds. The Warhawks shot 1-for-5 from the field during their final five possessions.
UW-Oshkosh will attempt to extend its winning streak to a season-best four games when it hosts UW-Platteville on Wednesday (Jan. 29) in Kolf Sports Center. The Titans won their 15th straight meeting with UW-Platteville by a 63-45 score on Jan. 8 in Platteville.