By ANDY WOLF
Down 10 points with 10 minutes to go?
The No. 25-ranked University of Findlay men’s basketball team turned to the same blueprint it had all season long.
The Oilers, again, willed their way back and Tyler Stern-Tucker got the game-winning layup with 5 seconds remaining to stun No. 16 Southern Indiana in the first round of the Division II national tournament Saturday at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Tonight’s game was a lot like the type of games that we’ve been in throughout the season,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “That was really why we kept our poise and kept believing.
“It’s why we executed as well as we did late in the game. … Our players were confident late in the game that we were going to get a bucket.”
Findlay (24-6) advances to meet No. 14 Ferris State in the regional semifinals at 5 p.m. today at Bellarmine University.
The No. 2-seeded Bulldogs (28-4) defeated Truman 86-78 to set up the fourth meeting in two years with their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe.
The Oilers topped Ferris State 71-67 on the road in overtime on Dec. 4 in their only meeting this season.
Findlay picked up its first tournament victory since 2012. It last defeated Northern Kentucky 50-49 at Bellarmine in a similar fashion at the buzzer.
Southern Indiana’s Bobo Drummond had just completed a three-point play after drawing a foul on Elijah Kahlig in the paint to lead by one point with 31 seconds remaining.
Kahlig got in position to draw the charge and appeared to have his heels over the restricted area line but still got called for the foul.
Down at the other end, UF stalled 20 seconds off the clock before orchestrating a play Ernst only likes to use at the end of a game.
It’s one they practice several days a week just for this occasion and one he feels they can get a layup on every time.
Stern-Tucker set the play in motion by pivoting left to right at the top of the arc and dishing to Kahlig on the right sideline.
Martyce Kimbrough screened a defender under the right wing to leave Stern-Tucker a clear path to the bucket and just ahead of a trail defender.
The Screaming Eagles didn’t take a timeout and instead got a long look at a 3-pointer from Jeri Taylor that missed everything.
“The way most teams guard Martyce and the quick change of direction, it’s almost impossible to stop,” Ernst said of the play. “Fortunately it takes a good pass which was made and Tyler has just got to finish something at the rim.
“Even those shots aren’t always easy to make, but it’s a high percentage shot.”
Stern-Tucker, a senior who totaled 17 points with 14 in the second half, had a knack for making clutch buckets all game long.
He completed UF’s comeback to tie it at 55-55 with 5:15 to go and made two straight shots to knot it at 58 and then 60-60.
His clutch 3-pointer also gave the Oilers a brief 63-62 lead with 2:30 to go.
Ernst said Stern-Tucker retweaked his previously separated shoulder during a “meat-grinder rebounding drill” in Tuesday’s practice.
He missed the next two days and went sparingly without contact Friday.
“Give him credit; he played like a senior,” Ernst said.
Junior Taren Sullivan played 39 minutes to amass 24 points and 14 rebounds. He became the 46th UF player to reach the 1,000-point plateau, getting the seven points he needed midway through the first half.
Drummond led all scorers with 31 points, making six 3-pointers in 13 attempts. He scored 26 of his team’s 47 points in the second half.
The Oilers were able shut down Great Lakes Valley Conference player of the year Jeril Taylor (seven points) and held him well below his average of 20.2 points per game.
He totaled seven turnovers and went 2 of 11 from the field.
Ernst said having played Southern Indiana in a season opener last year helped his players prepare for Saturday.
“We had a lot of respect for how explosive and really all their guards,” Ernst said. “Our guys were really zeroed in on the kind of effort it was going to take.
“Teams that are weak mentally will lose sight of the game plan and we never did.”
Kimbrough (10 points) and Kahlig (two points) combined to go 2 of 15 from downtown but had six and seven assists, respectively.
Trey Smith chipped in eight points and Aaron Overhiser had six points and six rebounds, both in bench efforts.
Kahlig 1-7 0-0 2, Kimbrough 3-17 2-2 10, R. Smith 1-1 1-2 3, Stern-Tucker 7-14 0-0 17, Sullivan 10-20 3-3 24, Overhiser 3-3 0-0 6, Singleton 0-0 0-0 0, T. Smith 3-3 1-2 8. TOTALS: 28-65 7-9—70.
SOUTHERN INDIANA ()
Deyjar Dickson 2-3 1-2 5, Macklin 0-4 2-4 2, Rajala 3-8 2-2 8, Stein 4-12 2-4 11, Taylor 2-11 2-2 7, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Drummond 12-20 1-3 31, Norman 2-4 1-2 5, Washington 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25-64 11-19—69.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 7-23 (Kahlig 0-4, Kimbrough 2-11, Stern-Tucker 3-3, Sullivan 1-4, T. Smith 1-1); Southern Indiana 8-25 (Macklin 0-3, Stein 1-3, Taylor 1-5, Drummond 6-13, Washington 0-1).
rebounds: Findlay 35 (Sullivan 14); Southern Indiana 44 (Dickson 8).
ASSISTS: Findlay 17 (Kahlig 7, Kimbrough 6); Southern Indiana 13 (Stein 9).
STEALS: Findlay 10 (Stern-Tucker & Sullivan 3); Southern Indiana 3 (Rajala, Taylor & Norman).
BLOCKS: Findlay 2 (Sullivan & Overhiser); Southern Indiana 3 (Macklin 2).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 9; Southern Indiana 12.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 20; Southern Indiana 12.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 24-22.