The UW-Oshkosh men’s and women’s basketball teams begin WIAC play against UW-Whitewater in a pair of nationally ranked clashes on Wednesday (Jan. 3).
The Titan men, who boast a 10-1 record, host UW-Whitewater at 7 p.m. in Kolf Sports Center. UW-Oshkosh enters the contest ranked seventh in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com while UW-Whitewater (10-1) lists fifth.
On the women’s side, third-ranked and defending WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh (10-0) travels to 12th-ranked UW-Whitewater (10-1) for a 7 p.m. opening tip in Kachel Gymnasium.
The men’s game features a UW-Whitewater squad that leads the league by limiting opponents to a .384 field goal percentage and a UW-Oshkosh offense that lists second in the conference in both scoring at 80.4 points per game and field goal percentage at a .480 rate.
UW-Oshkosh, the WIAC leader with a +12.4 average rebounding margin and 15.64 assists per game, is seeking its third straight victory over UW-Whitewater. The Titans won the most recent matchups by scores of 75-61 on Feb. 23 during the semifinal round of last season’s WIAC Championship in Oshkosh and 67-63 at UW-Whitewater on Feb. 15.
UW-Whitewater and UW-Oshkosh were picked to finish second and third, respectively, in a WIAC preseason poll conducted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Third-ranked UW-River Falls (9-1), the defending conference champion, was projected first in the league’s preseason poll.
Each of the five UW-Oshkosh starters are averaging more than 11 points per game.
Ben Boots leads the balanced Titan offense with 15.7 points per contest. He is followed by Adam Fravert at 14.8 points per game, Jack Flynn at 12.5, Brett Wittchow at 12.4 and Charlie Noone at 11.1. Boots also leads the team with 52 assists and 17 steals while Fravert’s 8.4 rebounds per game and 14 blocked shots are best in the WIAC.
Boots and Fravert have paced the Titans in scoring five times apiece this season while Flynn has notched four double-doubles, Wittchow has tallied at least 15 points in four games, and Noone’s 30 3-pointers ranks third in the WIAC.
UW-Oshkosh’s Kyle Beyak, Connor Duax, Alex Van Dyke and David Vlotho are each averaging more than 11 minutes per game off the bench. Titan reserves have accounted for more than 15 points per contest, including 4.4 per game from Duax.
UW-Whitewater boasts five players scoring better than nine points per game, including a team-leading 13.5 per contest from both Andre Brown and David Sachs, who also paces the Warhawks with 48 assists.
UW-Whitewater’s Mitchell Pfeifer scores 12 points per game while Derek Rongstad has averaged 11.5 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds. Dalton Menke and Marquis Turner are chipping in 9.2 and 5.1 points per game, respectively, for the Warhawks.
The UW-Oshkosh women travel to Whitewater seeking to avenge a loss to the Warhawks during the final game of last season’s WIAC Championship. UW-Whitewater defeated the Titans, 65-56, in Oshkosh to claim its first league tournament title.
The Titans have won four the past six meetings with the Warhawks, including a 59-58 decision in Oshkosh on Feb. 15 that secured the Titans’ league-leading 12th regular season championship and their first outright WIAC title since 1998-99.
UW-Oshkosh enters Wednesday’s matchup ranked among the national top 10 in several statistical categories.
The Titans lead the country in turnovers per game (8.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.26) while listing second nationally in scoring defense (43.0), field goal percentage (.485) and scoring margin (+39.2). UW-Oshkosh also ranks sixth among the division’s 435 teams in rebounding margin (+15.0) and 3-point field goal percentage (.403), seventh in assists per game (19.4) and ninth in scoring offense (82.2).
Fourteen Titans are averaging between 1.9 and 11.9 points per game, including Emma Melotik with a team-best 11.9 and Eliza Campbell at 11.5. Melotik has a WIAC-best 30 3-pointers while Campbell is averaging 4.5 rebounds per contest.
Rounding out the UW-Oshkosh starting lineup are Isabella Samuels with 7.9 points and a team-leading 5.1 rebounds per game, Chloe Pustina with 4.4 points and 2.8 assists per contest, and Olivia Campbell with 3.9 points per game to go along with a team-best 36 assists and 18 steals. Samuels has a WIAC-leading .642 field goal percentage while Olivia Campbell boasts a league-best 2.77 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Melanie Schneider averages 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in a reserve role as the Titan bench has accounted for 47 points and 20.6 rebounds per game. UW-Oshkosh reserves Jaimee Pitt and Leah Porath are averaging 7.8 and 5.4 points, respectively, while Madeline Staples is chipping in 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds a contest.
UW-Whitewater ranks eighth in the nation by limiting opponents to just 21.1 percent shooting from 3-point range. The Warhawks, whose lone loss was a 64-55 setback at Wartburg College (Iowa) on Saturday (Dec. 30), rank second in the conference in both scoring defense (53.1) and average scoring margin (+14.5), and third in scoring offense at 67.5 points per game.
Nine Warhawks average better than 11 minutes per contest, including Brooke Trewyn, who paces the squad with 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Malia Smith averages 10.4 points per game to along with a team-best 25 steals for the Warhawks, whose starting lineup is rounded out by Camri Conley at 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, Andrea Meinert at 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest, and Becky Deichl with five points and four boards per game.
Sarah Schumacher scores 5.9 points per game and Becky Raeder adds 5.3 off the UW-Whitewater bench.
The men’s and women’s teams from both UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater each played in last season’s NCAA Championship.
The Titan men are the lone WIAC team to play in both of the past two NCAA postseasons while the UW-Oshkosh women have won at least one game during the past four Division III Championships, including third-round appearances in 2013-14 and 2016-17.
The UW-Whitewater men fell in the second round of last season’s NCAA Championship, and the Warhawk women were eliminated in the first round.