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Second-Ranked Titans Defeat Third-Ranked Cardinals

Connor Duax (left) and JT Petrie (right) combined for seven of UW-Oshkosh's 40 rebounds against the Cardinals.
Connor Duax (left) and JT Petrie (right) combined for seven of UW-Oshkosh's 40 rebounds against the Cardinals.

Eric Peterson recorded career highs of 18 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to lead the defending NCAA Division III champion UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team to a decisive 76-66 victory over nationally ranked North Central College (Ill.) on Tuesday (Nov. 12) in Naperville, Ill.

UW-Oshkosh (2-0), ranked second in the country by D3hoops.com, never trailed third-ranked North Central College after scoring the first four points of the game. The Titans extended their lead to 25-15 and owned a 45-33 advantage at halftime on the way to maintaining at least a five-point cushion for the final 34 minutes of the contest.

The Titans made 10 of their first 13 field goal attempts and went 5-for-5 from 3-point range during the opening 10 minutes of the game.

Peterson finished the game 7-for-11 from the field en route to eclipsing his previous career highs of 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.

UW-Oshkosh's Adam Fravert added 15 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks for his 51st career double-digit scoring effort.

Eight Titans scored at least five points, including Jack Flynn with nine and eight each from starter Connor Duax as well as reserves Levi Borchert and David Vlotho.

UW-Oshkosh connected on 9 of 19 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc as Fravert buried three long-range jumpers and Peterson two.

The Titans ended the first meeting between the teams since 2004 with advantages of 47.6 (30-63) to 40.6 (26-64) percent in field goal percentage, 40-39 in rebounds, 5-3 in steals and 7-10 in turnovers.

North Central College, which reached the second round of the NCAA postseason last year, held edges of 11-10 in assists and 5-4 in blocks. The Cardinals shot just 26.1 percent (6-23) from 3-point range.

Will Clausel led the Cardinals with 14 points off the bench while Connor Raridon had 13 points and nine rebounds. Matt Cappelletti registered nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds for North Central College.

Fravert opened the scoring with a jumper less than a minute into the game before Peterson drove for a layup that provided the Titans an early 4-0 lead. Peterson then began UW-Oshkosh's string of five straight successful 3-point attempts, extending the Titan advantage to 9-2. Fravert, Vlotho, Will Mahoney and JT Petrie all later connected on long-range jumpers of their own to help UW-Oshkosh build a 28-17 lead at the 10:43 mark of the first half.

North Central College cut its deficit to 38-31 late in the opening period, but UW-Oshkosh finished the half with a 7-2 run over the final 98 seconds as Borchert and Duax connected on field goals ahead of Peterson's 3-pointer that upped the Titans' lead to 45-33 at intermission.

UW-Oshkosh owned at least a two-possession lead for the entire second half. The Titans owned their largest advantage of 14 points at 76-62 following Flynn's short jumper in the lane with 2:17 left.

Tuesday's meeting between UW-Oshkosh and North Central College was the first in Naperville since 1933. The Cardinals defeated the Titans, 60-59, during the 2004 matchup in Dubuque, Iowa, that marked the only other matchup in the series this century.

UW-Oshkosh plays its third straight road game against a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin opponent when it travels to Carthage College next Tuesday (Nov. 19). The Titans opened the season with a 74-67 win Saturday (Nov. 9) at 17th-ranked Augustana College (Ill.), the five-time defending CCIW regular season champion.

Photo courtesy of Steve Woltmann