By ANDY WOLF
The University of Findlay and Walsh’s men’s basketball teams broke out into a first-half scoring frenzy Thursday night with alternating field goals on the first nine possessions.
The points kept coming.
By the time it was over, the Oilers held a 59-47 halftime edge.
They kept a good distance from the Cavaliers the entire second half and produced a 96-87 Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory at Croy Gymnasium.
“Give Walsh credit,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “They came in here and executed offensively very well, or at the very least shot the ball very well.”
It was the first home game in three weeks for the Oilers (8-2, 3-0 GMAC), who played their last six games coming away from Croy. Yet Ernst noted the team wasn’t as lively early on as he expected.
“I feel like we showed a little bit of fatigue just in terms of our grit, our energy, our body language,” Ernst said. “… That’s the toll of a lot of travel. That’s the toll of a week before finals.”
Bench play became a theme throughout the night after UF was finally able to get some separation.
The Oilers outscored the Cavaliers 36-30 in that department, inlcuding 15 from Aaron Overhiser.
The 6-foot-8 backup center hit a career-best 3 of 4 from beyond the 3-point line, 6 of 9 overall and collected four rebounds.
“The coaches know, and I practice it every day,” Overhiser said. “They don’t get mad at me if I shoot those shots. They know the work I put in.”
Taren Sullivan scored a game-high 31 points for UF.
Tommy Schmock added eight points and six assists, while Matt Ashley canned two 3s for six points, both in reserve roles.
Liberty-Benton grad and true freshman Anthony Masterlasco made his only two shots for four points and tallied three rebounds and three assists.
But it was Walsh (5-2, 2-1) that got out front first.
The Cavs led 18-12 early thanks to freshman Bo Furcron, who scored his team’s first nine points.
Findlay roared back with bench energy.
Ernst substituted his entire starting lineup and saw an immediate impact.
Overhiser scored seven straight for UF with a 3-pointer, and Matt Ashley canned back-to-back triples to put UF up 33-28 .
“Our second group, we play together in practice,” Overhiser said. We’re a different look on offense. We’re a different look on defense. It’s nice to have that depth.”
It was enough for Ernst to put a few starters back in and Sullivan quickly ignited Croy with a two-handed jam down the lane, assisted by Martyce Kimbrough.
After a Trey Smith 3-pointer, Sullivan tacked on back-to-back buckets to give UF a 43-35 lead with 6:39 left in the first half.
The Oilers gradually expanded their lead thanks to backup point guard and true freshman Schmock, who scored six points in the final two minutes. The slashing guard drove through the lane twice for a pair of transition layups and knocked down two at the line.
With all the offensive success UF was having, Walsh had almost as much.
The Cavs scorched the nets for 55 percent shooting (20 of 36) in the first half behind Furcron’s 13 points and 14 from Darryl Straughter, who was 4 of 4 on 3-point tries.
Furcron (21 points) and Straughter (16 points) are both freshmen.
“Those guys were better scorers than I thought they could be,” Ernst said. “They’re freshmen. That says a lot about them.”
Walsh leading scorer and triple-double threat Chandler Vaudrin, 16.8 ppg entering, had just 12 points, five rebounds and three assists — all below his season averages. He failed to record at least a double-double for the first time this season.
“He only got 12 points but I thought he had to work really hard. He had four turnovers and got a couple of those buckets in transition when he got us backpedaling,” Ernst said.
The Oilers remain home for another GMAC contest against Malone at 1 p.m. Saturday.
WALSH (5-2, 2-1 GMAC)
Christy 4-7 2-2 10, Lucien 1-7 0-0 2, Furcron 8-18 4-7 21, Wess 4-8 0-0 12, Vaudrin 6-10 0-0 12, Straughter 6-9 0-0 16, Mokros 1-1 0-0 3, Carpenter 4-5 0-0 8, Canter 0-0 0-0 0, Wilkins 1-5 1-2 3. TOTALS: 35-70 7-11 — 87.
FINDLAY (8-2, 3-0 GMAC)
Sullivan 13-19 2-2 31, White 6-8 0-0 13, Gardner 0-3 0-0 0, Kimbrough 5-13 1-2 14, Kahlig 1-1 0-0 2, Smith 1-3 0-0 3, Schmock 3-6 2-4 8, Masterlasco 2-2 0-0 4, Wildermuth 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley 2-3 0-0 6, Overhiser 6-9 0-0 15. TOTALS: 39-67 5-8 — 96.
3-Point GOALS: Walsh 10-20 (Christy 0-1, Lucien 0-1, Furcron 1-2, Wess 4-8, Vaudrin 0-1, Straughter 4-5, Mokros 1-1, Carpenter 0-1); Findlay 13-28 (Sullivan 3-5, White 1-2, Gardner 0-1, Kimbrough 3-7, Smith 1-3, Schmock 0-3, Ashley 2-3, Overhiser 3-4).
rebounds: Walsh 37 (Christy 8); Findlay 30 (Sullivan 7).
ASSISTS: Walsh 12 (Wess & Vaudrin 3); Findlay 21 (Schmock 6).
STEALS: Walsh 5, Findlay 5.
BLOCKS: Walsh 5 (Christy 3); Findlay 8 (White 4).
TURNOVERS: Walsh 12, Findlay 9.
TOTAL FOULS: Walsh 12, Findlay 16.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 59-47.