By ANDY WOLF
The anatomy of any comeback usually dissects down to a number of things.
To be very broad, a lot has to go right.
The No. 9-ranked University of Findlay men’s basketball team overcame a 32-10 hurdle against Tiffin University just 10 minutes win 82-75 Thursday night.
Teams don’t make up 22-point deficits all at once.
Instead, the Oilers needed just over 20 minutes from peak disadvantage at 11:25 in the first half to tying it up at 55 with 9:30 to go.
It happened with all hands on deck.
Before the how of the comeback is explored, let’s examine the reason the Oilers got in that hole in the first place.
Tiffin made its first four shots opposite of Findlay missing its first three with two turnovers.
Not 3 minutes in and it’s already 10-0.
The crowd is feeling upset.
The Oilers regrouped, scored a few buckets but couldn’t garner necessary defensive stops. They trailed 14-8 at the first media timeout.
By the next, it was 27-8.
What happened in those 4:05?
“They were outplaying us in terms of their energy, their hustle, their enthusiasm,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “Their energy was four-to-one on ours. That creates a positive mojo where shots start to go in and calls go your way and it seems like everything is going your way.”
The Dragons converted every easy and open look.
They started 12 of 16 from the field and the tightly-packed, pro-Tiffin portion of the standing-room only crowd of 610 was feeling it.
It was almost as if the atmosphere fed back into Tiffin’s players which then fed into the crowd — a momentum loop avalanching at the expense of Findlay.
Austin Adams, Tiffin’s leading scorer last year, buried a 3-pointer to push his team up 22 points.
On to the how.
First of all, Ernst doesn’t coach his teams to focus on the score until late-game management scenarios.
“Our focus, really, throughout a game is four-minute segments,” Ernst said.
Each half is, of course, is divided into four media timeouts at the first stop under 16, 12, 8 and 4 minutes.
At the 8-minute media timeout, the Oilers had it down to 36-18.
It stayed under 20 the rest of the way.
Ernst noted how his team outscored TU by nine the rest of the first half, essentially splitting the deficit in half.
The bulk of it came on a 13-3 run to close out the final 4:47 of play.
Sophomore and bench player Chazz George started it on a traditional three-point play.
Trey Smith scored at the rim to end it sandwiched around two straight charges by Alex White. Those will come up again later.
Sometimes it’s just how a team goes into the locker room.
Findlay did down 43-34 but with momentum.
“We want to get three defensive consecutive defensive stops in a row,” Ernst said. “Those are benchmarks in our program that we chart. So really, if we’re accomplishing those benchmarks, the score will take care of itself.”
The Oilers lulled in the opening minutes of the second half, failing to capitalize on key stops with scores.
For a while, the comeback stood stagnant, appearing they were getting nowhere.
But a key benchmark of five straight stops helped the Oilers chip way six points in 2 minutes after doing no damage the previous 6 minutes.
Tiffin got stuck on 53 points for 3 minutes until Mabins scored off a turnover to make it 55-49 after the second media timeout.
The game soon shifted from benchmarks to bench spurts.
UF freshman guard Ethan Linder countered Mabins by scoring on a putback.
Linder drove under the bucket and scored on UF’s next possession and flew down the lane again after Tiffin turned the ball over.
The comeback was complete.
Before the Dragons knew it, UF had taken the lead at 58-55 on Anthony Masterlasco’s 3-pointer.
Ernst credited his entire bench to enable the comeback.
“We got some good bench play from Katwan (Singleton),” Ernst said. “He came in during that run and gave us some great energy.
Remember those pivotal charges?
Masterlasco drew one right before Linder tied it up as Tiffin’s Josh Williams barreled through the paint on a kickout.
They only show up in the stat column merely as turnovers.
In the play-by-play: turnover by John Smith — for example.
Findlay drew five over the course of the night.
White’s two on back-to-back possessions came while UF was reeling off nine straight points to pull within 40-30.
His third fouled Williams (11 points) out with 2:59 left.
“That’s not in (Wisconsin’s) Brad Davidson territory who had five charges the other night,” Ernst said. “Three is pretty darn good.”
Ernst channeled his inner Jim Tressel in his postgame comments
“Our players would laugh about this interview right now,” Ernst said. “They sort of compare me to Jim Tressel to where I say the charge is one of the best plays in basketball.
“Tressel says the punt is one of the best plays. There’s only a few guys willing to take (charges) and it can change the game. They were less aggressive driving to the basket. He fouled a couple guys out of the game. It was such a big factor.”
White was a key defensive playmaker down the stretch.
He followed up his charge by knocked the ball free from Justin Miller on a drive, off his knee and out of bounds for a turnover.
Yet, all five UF starters chipped in in crunch time offensively to put the game away.
Aaron Overhiser used two post moves to score a pair of quick buckets to extend out at 68-60.
Smith fed off the momentum and buried a 3-pointer.
Tommy Schmock caught Tiffin on its heels on the next possession, dribbling right down broadway for the lay-in.
It was Trey Smith’s turn behind the wheel next.
Overhiser set a decoy screen on the right wing which Smith dribbled left towards before veering away from Tiffin’s defensive momentum for an uncontested lay-in.
Schmock repeated his own feat and Anthony Masterlasco dished off to White for a point-blank finish just before the 1-minute warning.
“That’s really what we’re learning is that I’m not sure we have one guy that’s our go-to guy,” Ernst said. “And maybe that’s a good thing because we have a lot of guys. It goes back to being unselfish.”
Ernst commended Schmock for reading Tiffin’s spread-out and fatigued defense.
He reiterated Linder’s crucial minutes as being doubly-beneficial to keep Schmock fresh late.
The Oilers don’t get to bask in the win long.
Today they’ll prepare for Cedarville for a 3:15 p.m. road contest on Saturday.
“We bring the momentum to practice; it’s going to lead to the game on Saturday,” Masterlasco said. “Hopefully from there it will help us out.”