By ANDY WOLF
PAINESVILLE — In order to see their way to a victory, the 21st-ranked University of Findlay men’s basketball team first had to do some serious window cleaning.
That was easier said than done as Lake Erie controlled the glass in the first half, outrebounding the Oilers nearly 2:1.
The Oilers turned it around in the second half and held Lake Erie without an offensive rebound in the final 13 minutes to earn a 65-59 Great Midwest Athletic Conference win Saturday.
“Any road victory against one of the (GMAC) contenders is a good win,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “We did a lot of things statistically that didn’t favor us: rebounding and free throw shooting (10 of 21).
“But we found a way and our defense was stout all day. We made shots when we needed to.”
The win was the 12th straight for the Oilers (16-2, 10-0 GMAC).
UF’s Taren Sullivan led all players with 15 points while Martyce Kimbrough chipped in 14 points. Alex White put in 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Oilers.
It was the second straight home loss for Lake Erie (9-6, 4-3), which won the rebounding battle 44-29 largely by committee.
Seven Lake Erie players had at least four rebounds and three others had three each for the Storm.
Ernst knew what his team was in for, with the Storm outrebounding opponents by an average of five per game. He saw their rebounding prowess as an element of their offense.
“They run an offense where they move the ball and reverse the ball and move their people better than anyone we play all year,” Ernst said. “What happens is, they get you chasing and chasing and chasing and the shot goes up, you lose sight of your man.”
Lake Erie led 28-27 at halftime, thanks in part to a 22-14 rebounding advantage by halftime, including 8-2 on the offensive end to produce nine second-chance points.
“It became a grinder of a game because we have such a hard time keeping them off the glass,” Ernst said. “I would say we defended their initial action extremely well. Unfortunately, a couple of their buckets came not directly off the rebound, but then we had to guard them for another 20 seconds and it felt like the first half was mostly played in front of our bench. It’s hard to score points when you’re spending most of your time on defense.”
The problem became thematic again in the second half for a UF team trying gain separation.
The Oilers worked up a 36-31 lead, but Ryan Middendorf’s putback off a missed free throw made it a one-possession game again.
After a Sullivan 3-pointer, Jordan Humphrey got a long offensive rebound and, two passes later, David Dunnigan finished at the rim for the Storm.
Lake Erie gained its last two offensive rebounds on the same possession, but, this time, couldn’t capitalize on either, trailing 41-39 with 13:36 to go.
With Sullivan the only starter on the court, the Oilers worked up a lead.
He and Liberty-Benton product Anthony Masterlasco drove for layups on consecutive possessions for a 45-41 advantage.
A few possessions later, Masterlasco secured a key offensive board and quickly converted the putback that gave UF a 48-42 lead and its first second-chance points of the day.
Masterlasco finished with six points, two rebounds and a steal in just eight minutes of action.
Meanwhile, bench guards Trey Smith and Tommy Schmock were at it again, making life uneasy for Lake Erie’s ballhandlers.
“(Our second unit) really takes pride in their defense and their rebounding,” Ernst said. “Even though they’re not a big group, it’s a scrappy one. It’s hard to prepare for them.
“They had Lake Erie’s guards, who are really pretty good ballhandlers, on their heels.”
The Oilers’ lead hovered between three and six points all the way down to the 2-minute mark.
They sealed it on a sequence that included a White steal under the basket and Kimbrough sneaking a bounce pass to Austin Gardner on the right block for an easy lay-in that put the game away at 63-55 with less than a minute to go.
“We had (Lake Erie) worn down late in the game,” Ernst said. “They ran off a lot more time in the shot clock than they wanted to because they just couldn’t get by us.”
Gabe Kynard, Lake Erie’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, totaled 10 points on his worst shooting night (3 of 9) in 12 games. Dunnigan totaled six points and eight rebounds.
FINDLAY (16-2, 10-0 GMAC)
Gardner 2-3 0-0—4, Sullivan 6-11 1-5—15, Kimbrough 5-14 2-2—14, Kahlig 1-3 1-2—4, White 4-7 3-4—12, Smith 1-5 1-2—3, Schmock 1-3 1-4—3, Masterlasco 3-4 0-0—6, Wildermuth 0-0 0-0—0, Ashley 1-1 0-0—3, Overhiser 0-2 1-2—1. TOTALS: 24-53 10-21 — 65.
LAKE ERIE (9-6, 4-3 GMAC)
Humphrey 3-8 0-0—8, Kynard 3-9 4-4—10, Scott 5-10 0-0—10, Middendorf 3-4 0-0—8, Dunnigan 3-7 0-3—6, James 3-6 0-0—8, Rhodes 1-1 0-0—2, Riggs 0-4 0-0—0, Thomas 0-0 0-0—0, Loomis 2-4 1-2—5, Morris 0-4 2-4—2. TOTALS: 23-57 7-13 — 59.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 7-22 (Sullivan 2-4, Kimbrough 2-8, Kahlig 1-1, White 1-2, Smith 0-2, Schmock 0-2, Masterlasco 0-1, Ashley 1-1, Overhiser 0-1); Lake Erie 6-23 (Humphrey 2-3, Kynard 0-3, Scott 0-3, Middendorf 2-2, James 2-5, Riggs 0-3, Morris 0-4).
rebounds: Findlay 29 (White 8); Lake Erie 44 (Dunnigan 8).
ASSISTS: Findlay 12 (Kimbrough 3); Lake Erie 14 (Kynard 3).
STEALS: Findlay 6 (White 2); Lake Erie 5 (Kynard 3).
BLOCKS: Findlay 2 (Sullivan & White); Lake Erie 1 (Dunnigan 1).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 9; Lake Erie 15.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 14; Lake Erie 18.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Lake Erie, 28-27.