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Men’s basketball: Another top 10 team goes down

By ANDY WOLF
Staff Writer
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Two days. Two wins over preseason top 10 teams.
The No. 20-ranked University of Findlay men’s basketball team did just that as the Oilers survived a charging St. Thomas Aquinas team to earn a 69-65 victory on the second day of the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday.
“I’m not sure we’ve seen a team that brings it the way they do,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said of No. 5-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas. “They press like the best West Liberty teams but that’s as good of a rebounding team as I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Oilers, fresh off an 80-61 victory over No. 6 Indiana (Pa.) on Friday, improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2013-14. The Spartans, an Elite Eight team a year ago, dropped to 0-2.
Findlay led 32-25 at halftime and swelled the margin to 21 points with 11:34 to go.
But a tenacious Spartan press took its toll.
STA’s James Mitchell banked in a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game at 68-65 with 1:02 to go.
The Oilers successfully inbounded the ball but quickly lost it against the press.
Justin Reyes earned the steal and dished to Jamar Sudan who traveled on his way to what would’ve been an uncontested layup.
Taren Sullivan (16 points) split a pair of free throws with six seconds to go to seal the UF victory.
“That’s not out of character for (St. Thomas Aquinas) to play the way they did to come back because that’s the way they play the whole game,” Ernst said. “The reality is, when we have a 10-, 12-, 14-point lead you’ve got to play smart. You can’t play in the same mode you were in the first half.”
Reyes, a 6-foot-4 preseason all-American candidate, put on a one-man show for Aquinas, scoring 38 points, taking 20 of its 50 field goal attempts and making 15. He rounded our his stat sheet with eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
No other Aquinas player scored in double figures.
“He is special,” Ernst said. “We don’t have an ideal matchup for him. That’s what makes him so good. He’s kind of in between a 4 and a 5. He handles the ball, especially from 15 feet away, like most point guards do with that type of quickness.”
Reyes had 24 points in the second half.
UF’s Martyce Kimbrough poured in 16 of his 19 points in the first half and finished with five 3-pointers.
Aaron Overhiser chipped in eight points and four rebounds and Tommy Schmock added seven points, four assists and two steals, both efforts off the UF bench.
After getting less than 24 hours to prep for the Spartans, the Oilers now have plenty of time to get ready for Fairmont State’s invasion of Croy Gymnasium on Nov. 15 for a 7 p.m. contest.
The Fighting Falcons were national runners-up last year and also topped Findlay 96-80 at home.
“Another big one. Another really good opponent,” Ernst said. “Not being in Croy and playing tough opponents is a tough task for any team.
“Not only do you beat two really good teams but you do it away from home so these (wins) are about as big as they get. Probably the team we played today will be good preparation for what we see in our next time out (vs. Fairmont).”
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (0-2)
de Courtenay 0-1 0-0 0, Mitchell 3-9 0-0 7, Murrell 2-3 0-0 5, Reyes 15-20 7-10 38, McFarlan 3-7 3-4 9, Parker 0-1 0-0 0, Atkinson 0-3 0-1 0, Alkins 0-1 1-1 1, Wilson 0-0 1-2 1, Connell 1-1 0-0 2, Rzwenicki 0-0 0-0 0, Sudan 1-3 0-2 2, Greenfield 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25-50 12-20 — 65.
FINDLAY (2-0)
Sullivan 4-11 7-8 16, White 2-6 2-2 6, Gardner 2-4 0-0 4, Kimbrough 7-15 0-2 19, Kahlig 2-8 0-0 6, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Schmock 3-5 0-1 7, Masterlasco 1-3 1-3 3, Overhiser 2-2 4-4 8. TOTALS: 23-54 14-20 — 69.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 32-25.
3-Point GOALS: St. Thomas Aquinas 3-13 (Mitchell 1-4, Murrell 1-2, Reyes 1-2, McFarlan 0-2, Atkinson 0-2, Alkins 0-1); Findlay 9-24 (Sullivan 1-4, White 0-1, Gardner 0-1, Kimbrough 5-10, Kahlig 2-6, Schmock 1-2).
rebounds: St. Thomas Aquinas 32 (Reyes 8); Findlay 31 (Sullivan 7). ASSISTS: St. Thomas Aquinas 4; Findlay 10 (Schmock 4). STEALS: St. Thomas Aquinas 6 (Reyes 3); Findlay 8 (Gardner & Schmock 2). BLOCKS: St. Thomas Aquinas 3, Findlay 0. TURNOVERS: St. Thomas Aquinas 16, Findlay 15. TOTAL FOULS: St. Thomas Aquinas 20, Findlay 21. FOULED OUT: St. Thomas Aquinas, de Courtenay.