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Titans Win Season-Opening Battle Of Nationally Ranked Teams

Eric Peterson had 12 points and three assists against the Vikings.
Eric Peterson had 12 points and three assists against the Vikings.

Senior preseason All-Americans Jack Flynn and Adam Fravert paced a balanced UW-Oshkosh offense with 14 points apiece as the reigning NCAA Division III champion Titan men's basketball team opened the 2019-20 campaign with a 74-67 victory over Augustana College in a matchup of nationally ranked teams Saturday (Nov. 9) in Rock Island, Ill.

UW-Oshkosh (1-0), ranked second in the country by D3hoops.com, did not trail Augustana College (0-1) after scoring 13 unanswered points for a 13-6 lead. The Titans later took the lead for good with another 13 points in a row for a 47-34 advantage early in the second half.

Flynn, a D3hoops.com All-America First Team selection in the preseason, shot 4-for-5 from the field on the way to his 58th career double-digit scoring effort while honorable mention preseason All-American Fravert led all players with 11 rebounds and two blocks for his 15th career double-double.

Eric Peterson added a career-high 12 points for the Titans, who also received 11 points from both David Vlotho and Will Mahoney in his collegiate debut. Mahoney, Peterson and Vlotho each made three 3-pointers as the trio combined to shoot 9-for-12 from beyond the arc. Mahoney dished out a team-leading four assists.

UW-Oshkosh, which made a WIAC-record 325 3-pointers last season en route to winning the program's first national title, shot 11 of 26 from 3-point range Saturday. The Titans have made at least 10 3-pointers in six of their last seven games dating back to last year.

The Titans, who outshot the Vikings, 44.8 (26-58) to 43.1 (25-58) percent from the field, also finished the season opener with advantages of 41-40 in rebounds, 14-6 in assists and 13-17 in turnovers. Both teams recorded five blocks.

Augustana College's Jarrett Tribble went 6-for-7 from the floor and scored a game-high 17 points off the bench.

Jack McDonald and Carson Frakes chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Vikings.

Augustana College scored the first six points of the game until UW-Oshkosh responded with a string of 13 unanswered points. Fravert sparked the run with a jumper at the 16:53 mark of the first half. Fravert then knocked down a 3-pointer and Vlotho hit a pair of long-range baskets of his own before Mahoney capped the 13-point outburst with a jumper.

The Titans claimed an 8-6 lead they would not relinquish on Vlotho's 3-pointer with 14:24 to go in the opening period.

The Vikings ended a scoreless drought of nearly six minutes when Tribble drove for a layup at the 12-minute mark of the first half. Augustana College missed seven field goal attempts and committed three turnovers during UW-Oshkosh's 13-0 run.

Augustana College cut its deficit to 23-22 with 5:25 to play in the opening period, but back-to-back baskets by Fravert and Levi Borchert in the span of 31 seconds pushed the Titans' advantage to 27-22 with just over four minutes remaining before intermission. However, the Vikings hit a pair of 3-pointers over the final 99 seconds of the period to pull within 31-28 at halftime.

A Tribble jumper knotted the score at 34 with 17:14 remaining, but UW-Oshkosh erupted for another 13 unanswered points in a span of 2:26 as Mahoney drilled a 3-pointer, Fravert rose for a left-handed dunk through traffic, Flynn made a pair of free throws, and Mahoney and Peterson hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 47-34 cushion with 14:36 to go.

Augustana College pulled within 49-45 at the 12:26 mark before a Vlotho 3-pointer and a Peterson layup pushed UW-Oshkosh's lead back to 54-45. Connor Duax later connected from 3-point range to increase the UW-Oshkosh advantage to 59-47, and the Titans led by at least seven points the rest of the way.

UW-Oshkosh has won its past three meetings with Augustana College, including a 95-88 overtime decision in Rock Island during the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Division III Championship.

The Titans remain on the road for a game at third-ranked North Central College (Ill.) on Tuesday (Nov. 12).

Photo courtesy of Abbigail Ward