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Basketball: Oilers can win South Division tonight

By ANDY WOLF
STAFF WRITER

Martyce Kimbrough is locked in.

So is the rest of the University of Findlay men’s basketball team.

A Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division title isn’t the only thing at stake tonight.

The Oilers (19-5, 13-4 GLIAC) welcome rival Tiffin (11-14, 6-11) to Croy Gymnasium with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

They can clinch their first outright division crown since 2012-13 and their fourth in the last five years.

“We have to approach every game as if it’s a tournament game,” Kimbrough said. “At this point in the season, every team is either fighting to get in or to keep their seeding.

“There are no more easy games or games where you can come out not prepared to play.”

Findlay is also ranked fifth in the first release of the Midwest Regional rankings Wednesday.

A lot can change, for better or worse, between now and selection Sunday.

“They all take on the same level of importance that when you get to this point in the season you look behind you, you realize that’s so true,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “With these games, obviously, the picture is more clear and that’s the difference between games now and December.”

The Oilers are on a four-game winning streak and most recently blew out GLIAC cellar dweller Lake Erie 92-55 in Painesville.

They’ve shot 50 percent in each game and are 52 of 104 from beyond the arc.

“Everybody has been locked in in all aspects,” Kimbrough said. “We’ve shortened our practices a little bit but we have good practices that we compete. We get a lot of things done.”

Kimbrough is coming off his best shooting game of his career as he made 8 of 10 from 3-point range (32 points) against Lake Erie.

That effort plus a clutch game-tying 3-pointer against Ohio Dominican didn’t earn him South Division Player of the Week honors. That went to his teammate Taren Sullivan.

Sullivan averaged 23.5 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals to earn the honor a fourth time in six weeks.

“As bad as it sounds, maybe there are people that take (Kimbrough’s) shooting for granted,” Ernst said. “I certainly don’t. I think he’s the best shooter in the league.”

Because Kimbrough (18.9 ppg) has made a league-high 88 threes, Ernst said teams are running double teams at him, playing him gap heavy and forcing him to find an open guy.

As a result Kimbrough has dished out multiple assists in six of his last eight games.

He’s also seen Kimbrough take more initiative to the basket to utilize his automatic free throw-shooting touch where he’s 52 for 54 this season, making 33 straight.

In UF’s first meeting against Tiffin, Kimbrough and teammate Tyler Stern-Tucker both led the Oilers with 18 points in a 75-58 win.

Tiffin’s Austin Adams pumped in 17 points and seven rebounds.

Adams, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard and Urbana transfer, has emerged as the Dragons’ leading scorer (16.0 ppg) and as one of the best young players in the league.

Since losing to Findlay, Adams is averaging 23.3 ppg and has shot better than 58 percent in each game.

He’s also the league’s second leading rebounder (8.2 rpg).

“It took their coaches a good part of half the season to figure out exactly how to take advantage of him,” Ernst said. “What they’ve found is he’s best position is the four. I think he’s the best offensive rebounder in the conference. He’s continually adding perimeter skill to his game.”

Khalil McCormick (14.3 ppg) had led Tiffin in scoring on the season up until Adams’ hot stretch.

Findlay’s women’s basketball team (12-13, 6-11) will also host Tiffin (6-16, 4-13) at a 5:30 p.m tip.

The Dragons outlasted the Oilers 77-71 the first time around, winning the fourth quarter 20-9. Sarah Cummings and Bre Nauman netted 15 points to lead the Dragons.

Elissa Ellerbrock led UF with 12 points off the bench while Anna Hintz and Christa Puthoff each had 10 points.

Findlay has won four straight at Croy against Tiffin.

The Oilers are three games back of Walsh (9-8) with three to go for the eighth and final conference tournament bid.

They’re coming off a tough 74-69 loss to Lake Erie which they trailed the entire way.

Wolf, 419-427-8496