By ANDY WOLF
Martyce Kimbrough. In Croy Gymnasium. With the dagger.
The senior guard’s late, clutch 3-pointer helped the University of Findlay men’s basketball team survive and put away Ohio Dominican 73-66 for a Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory Tuesday night.
“It was a really big win for us,” said Kimbrough, who scored a game-high 26 points. “It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we came out and got it done. Both teams played really hard.”
Kimbrough notched his fifth 20-point game of the season and the Oilers improved to 15-2, 9-0 in the GMAC.
The Panthers fell to 7-7, 2-5.
Findlay stayed in front for the final 14 minutes, 31 in all, but was locked in another battle to the buzzer against ODU for the third straight season.
Again, the Oilers prevailed.
They held a slim 66-63 lead entering the final minute and were lucky to retain possession after Elijah Kahlig dove to the floor to tie up a loose ball with 4 seconds left on the shot clock.
UF coach Charlie Ernst turned to the type of play he only likes to use “when they have to.”
One they worked on that prior morning.
Alex White redirected the inbounds pass with a one-handed bat backward from the left block to Kimbrough, who was waiting behind him, wide open, with nobody near him on the left wing.
Kimbrough found nothing but net.
“That was the way we drew it up,” Kimbrough said. “Coach put a lot of confidence in me to hit the shot.
I have a lot of confidence in myself to hit the shot. We were able to get defensive stops, rebounds, after that to get the win.”
Kimbrough found his shot early and made 7 of his 16 field goal attempts and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. He also went 8 for 8 at the line, including all four after his big 3-pointer.
“I’m finally starting to hit some free throws,” said Kimbrough, a career 89-percent free throw shooter whose season mark rose to 74 percent. “That’s something we’re doing a lot of in practice.”
UF point guard Austin Gardner collected 12 points and four rebounds in what Ernst calls “his best game he’s played, maybe in his career.”
“He stepped up and made a couple 3s in the first half when we were struggling,” Ernst said. “He had a very good game. He just did a lot of things that don’t show up in the scorebook.”
Taren Sullivan chipped in 21 point for the Oilers. He opened the second half with 8 of UF’s first 10 points to keep a hot-shooting ODU team at bay.
The Panthers scored their first 12 points of the second half via the 3-ball, the last giving them their final lead at 46-45 at the 15-minute mark.
ODU began the game with a different starting lineup for the first time in 13 games. Instead of starting seniors Ronnie Williams, Mike DeLeon and Shemar Waugh, ODU coach Dan Evans opted for junior Ben Casanova, and sophomores Sam Hickey and Ryan Hoyng.
“We just needed a little bit of new blood,”Evans said. “It’s nothing our kids are doing wrong. We just want to change things up a bit, get a little bit different look.”
The move caught the Oilers off guard.
“They went from a team that’s predominantly working off the dribble to a team that passes the ball very well,” Ernst said. “Here we spent the last day or two containing the ball and defending ball screens. And they played off their big kid.”
Six-foot-six sophomore Hasan Varence led ODU with 20 points and seven rebounds, making 8 of his 16 field goal attempts.
Liberty-Benton grad and Panthers senior Adam Cytlak chipped in eight points and six assists. Hickey added 13 points and Hoyng had 10.
Ohio Dominican (7-7, 2-5 GMAC)
Varence 8-16 2-2 20, Hickey 4-8 2-4 13, Hoyng 4-8 0-0 10, Cytlak 3-6 0-0 8, DeLeon 2-4 0-0 4, Stevens 2-2 0-2 4, Williams 1-2 0-0 3, Casanova 0-3 2-2 2, Waugh 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS: 25-52 6-10 — 66.
Findlay (15-2, 9-0 GMAC)
Kimbrough 7-16 8-8 26, Sullivan 8-12 5-5 21, Gardner 4-6 2-2 12, White 3-9 0-0 6, Schmock 1-3 1-3 3, Smith 1-3 0-0 3, Kahlig 1-5 0-0 2, Masterlasco 0-0 0-0 0, Wildermuth 0-0 0-0 0, Overhiser 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25-55 16-18 — 73.
3-Point GOALS: Ohio Dominican 10-21 (Hickey 3-5, Hoyng 2-4, Cytlak 2-5, Varence 2-3, Williams 1-2, Casanova 0-1, Waugh 0-1); Findlay 7-21 (Kimbrough 4-7, Gardner 2-4, Smith 1-2, Sullivan 0-2, White 0-2, Kahlig 0-4).
rebounds: Ohio Dominican 27 (Varence 7); Findlay 34 (White 12).
ASSISTS: Ohio Dominican 17 (Cytlak 6); Findlay 8 (Kimbrough & Sullivan 2).
STEALS: Ohio Dominican 9 (Varence, Hickey & Waugh 2); Findlay 13 (White 3).
BLOCKS: Ohio Dominican 2, Findlay 2.
TURNOVERS: Ohio Dominican 15, Findlay 13.
TOTAL FOULS: Ohio Dominican 17, Findlay 12.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 39-34.