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Falcons fall to nationally ranked Titans

February 12, 2019

UW–River Falls Men’s basketball dropped to 8-11 on the season, including a 1-7 WIAC record, following an 80-69 loss to UW–Oshkosh at Don Page Arena on Jan. 26. It was a typical “look-over” game for the UW-Oshkosh Titans, as they came into the game with a record of 17-1 with a WIAC record of 7-0. The Titans came to River Falls on a 16-game win streak while also being ranked fourth in the nation for Division III Men’s college basketball. They trailed only Whitman, Nebraska Wesleyan, and Augustana coming into the match up against the Falcons.

When asked about the match up against one of the best teams in the country, River Falls junior Matt Keller said, “We try not to pay attention to rankings that much, but we know our conference is loaded and every game is going to be a fight. Our scout team did a great job of helping us prepare for them.”

The Falcons began the game with one of the best stretches of basketball they have played all season. After the game was tied at 2-2 less than two minutes into the game, the Falcons would go on an 11-0 run which ended with a jump shot from just inside the three-point line by sophomore Jack Stensgard. Keller said about having the lead early, “I don’t think they quite expected that because of the last time we played. It was important for us to have a good start, I thought our energy and minds were in the right place and we got into a nice flow and got some momentum rolling early.”

Stensgard has only played in 11 games for the Falcons this season but has quickly became one of the most productive players on the roster. In just 11 games, Stensgard is averaging 10.1 points per game while shooting 45 percent from behind the arc. Stensgard leads all Falcons among players with at least ten attempts on the season. Keller said about teammate Stensgard, “He’s been a big addition for us, he knows the game really well and is easy to play with. He brings another great scoring option for us.”

The Falcons lead the Titans 20-10 with nine minutes to go in the first half. In part because the Titans started the game shooting just 12 percent from the floor. However, the Titans turned the game around when they unleashed a barrage of three pointers with eight minutes remaining in the half. The scoring run began with a three from junior Adam Fravert to cut the lead to seven. Less than two minutes later the Titans had made four more deep threes and the Falcons lead had vanished. Suddenly, the game was tied at 22 and the Falcons needed a timeout to stop the momentum.

Both teams would trade baskets for the next several minutes and the Titans would take a four-point lead into halftime. The Falcons managed to be down only four points to the fourth ranked team in the nation.

Neither team could pull away to start the second half, with 10 minutes remaining in the game Oshkosh had only a three-point advantage over the Falcons. The Falcons wouldn’t get within three points again until there was five minutes left in the game. It was as close as the Falcons would get for the rest of the game.

The Titans ended up with an 80-69 victory over the Falcons in a game that was significantly closer than their previous match up, which was a 91-56 win on January 12th. Fravert was the dominant force behind the Titans victory as he tallied 24 points, three blocks, and three steals with 50 percent shooting from behind the arc. For the Falcons, Austin Heidecker  had one of his best games of the year statistically. He finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, an assist, and shot 100 percent from the free throw line.

The Falcons have their next game against UW–Platteville on Feb. 9 at Don Page Arena. Tip-off for the match up is set for 5:00p.m.