Jack Flynn had a career-high 28 points and matched his career best with 15 rebounds as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team set a program record for best season start with an 85-63 victory over UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday (Jan. 23) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh (17-1, 7-0 WIAC) ended the first half with 13 unanswered points to take a 45-29 lead into intermission. The Titans, the highest scoring team in the WIAC, went on to lead by at least 11 points for the duration of the second period and held a double-digit advantage for the final 21:31 of the contest.
The Titans' 17 wins in their first 18 games marks the best start in the 121-year history of the program, surpassing the 16-1 record to open the 1995-96 campaign. UW-Oshkosh also extended its school-record winning streak to 16 games – the 11th longest in WIAC history – and improved to 7-0 in league play for the first time since winning a program-best nine in a row to start the 1967-68 conference season.
Flynn eclipsed his previous career high of 24 points by connecting on 12 of 17 shots from the field and 4 of 7 attempts at the free throw line. He notched his 13th career double-double and scored in double figures for the 20th consecutive game dating back to last season.
Connor Duax added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Titans while Adam Fravert had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. UW-Oshkosh's Ben Boots chipped in 10 points and a game-high five assists.
UW-Oshkosh, ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, shot 50.8 percent (31-61) from the floor, 33.3 percent (7-21) from 3-point range and 66.7 percent (16-24) at the foul line on the way to earning its 10th win over UW-Eau Claire in the past 12 meetings.
The Titans, who won their 13th straight home game, held advantages of 43-28 in rebounds, 18-8 in assists, 12-15 in turnovers and 5-2 in blocks. UW-Oshkosh, which out-rebounded its 20th consecutive opponent, entered Wednesday ranked eighth in the country with a +10.9 average rebounding margin and ninth with a +18.8 average scoring margin. The Titans also paced the conference in scoring (85.2), made 3-pointers (168), field goal percentage defense (.408), assists per game (16.1), blocks (74) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52).
UW-Eau Claire shot 37.9 percent (22-58) from the field, 27.3 percent (6-22) from beyond the 3-point arc and 86.7 percent (13-15) at the free throw line. The Blugolds, have not won in Oshkosh since a 59-56 decision on Jan. 9, 2013, owned an 8-7 edge in steals after heading into the night averaging a WIAC-best 8.0 per game.
Neither team led by more than three points until UW-Oshkosh reclaimed the lead for good by scoring 10 points in a row for a 23-15 advantage with 8:33 remaining in the first half. Duax began the 10-point run that last more than five with three throws for a 16-15 lead with 11:35 left in the opening period. Eric Peterson continued the surge with a layup before Flynn and Fravert added baskets of their own in the paint during a span of 22 seconds for a 23-15 lead.
UW-Eau Claire (10-8, 3-4 WIAC) cut its deficit to 25-24 with 5:59 left in the first period and trailed 32-29 at the 2:39 mark, but UW-Oshkosh created separation with a 13-0 half-ending scoring run that featured 3-pointers from Boots, Duax and David Vlotho.
The Titans held the Blugolds without a field goal from the 5:59 mark of the first half until Ben Widdes drove for a layup on the first possession of the second period to pull UW-Eau Claire within 45-31 with 19:32 to play.
UW-Oshkosh then scored seven unanswered points for a 52-31 lead with 17:29 to go before UW-Eau Claire trimmed its deficit to 58-47 over the next nine minutes. Flynn converted back-to-back layups for a 75-56 Titan lead at the 5:10 mark. UW-Oshkosh later built its largest lead of 22 points when Jake Zeitler drained a 3-pointer to create the final score with seven seconds left.
Sean Miller led UW-Eau Claire with 18 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench.
Cole Rabedeaux and Widdes contributed 16 and 13 points, respectively, for the Blugolds. Widdes dished out a team-leading four assists.
UW-Oshkosh plays at UW-River Falls on Saturday (Jan. 26).