By ANDY WOLF
Before his team’s 103-92 win over No. 14-ranked Ferris State, Charlie Ernst passed a boxing glove around to his players and told them it was going to be a 12-round bout.
“They’re going to hit us in a flurry and we just have to survive,” the head coach of the No. 13-ranked University of Findlay men’s basketball team said.”
The Oilers did just that.
They never trailed, built a few big leads and survived every run the Bulldogs threw at them Tuesday night at Croy Gymnasium in a heavyweight nonconference battle.
“We’re going to hit them with a flurry and guess what? They’re going to survive because that’s the way they play,” Ernst said. “The middle rounds, both teams were kind of clawing and scrapping and just trying to survive.”
The game was just another chapter in the developing rivalry between the two teams.
Ferris State (5-2) prevailed over UF in the Sweet 16 last season en route to capturing the Division II national championship.
But both teams lost four starters off each squad.
Findlay shot 54 percent (34 of 63) from the field and topped the century mark against Ferris State for the first time in school history. The Oilers also got it done at the foul line (24 of 29).
Ferris State also shot well at 55 percent (33 of 60) and 12 of 22 from 3-point range.
“Findlay’s a great team, always has been, always will be,” FSU coach Andy Bronkema said. “They were more physical than us and that won them the game.
UF junior Aaron Overhiser scored a team-high 20 points as one of five Oilers to score at least 15 points.
Alex White posted his second-straight double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Ethan Linder had a bench-high 16 points. Anthony Masterlasco (Liberty-Benton) and Trey Smith each scored 15 points.
Overhiser knew just how big the win was for the team.
“We had a lot of guys step up when we needed to,” he said. “I really felt like we just did a great job executing down the stretch. We’ve been tested before. I think this was really big for us to step up and show that we’ve learned from our earlier mistakes in the year.”
Ferris State’s DeShaun Thrower went off for a game-high 35 points. He canned 7 of 8 attempts from the 3-point line and hit three in a row in the first half.
It was one of many spurts used by the Bulldogs over the course of the game.
Findlay built a peak lead of 36-18 midway through the first half.
The Bulldogs used separate runs of 6-0, 9-0 and 8-0 to end the first half trailing only 47-43.
They’d come as close as 63-60 early in the second half.
But Chazz George came off the bench to score UF’s next 10 points on four shots, starting by nailing back-to-back 3-pointers.
George tied his career-high with 12 points.
Yet, Thrower answered his last three makes with eight points, two 3s, of his own to keep FSU within 73-68 with 10 minutes to go.
“They tried to do a lot of isolation basketball with their guards — and it worked,” Ernst said.
A few minutes later, Masterlasco and Overhiser traded buckets twice in a 9-1 run to push UF’s lead in double figures again at 87-74.
The spurt started when Masterlasco finished an alley-oop dunk on the right side from Smith standing on the left wing.
Overhiser then scored on the right block, buried a kickout 3-pointer and Masterlasco capped it with a traditional three-point play.
Ferris never got the deficit under 10 points again.
But to Overhiser, the game wasn’t over until the final buzzer sounded.
“You never know. We’ve had some battles the past couple years with Ferris,” he said. “The fact that we were able to come away with a win meant a ton to us.”
Findlay notched 24 assists to 12 turnovers on the night.
Smith had eight of them to Schmock’s seven.
Ernst lauded Schmock (one turnover) for has ball-handling and ability to handle Ferris’s press.
In Monday’s practice, Ernst encouraged Schmock to be more aggressive with the dribble.
“It wasn’t just him, but I think he scared them,” Ernst said. “He didn’t just beat the press but he attacked the end of the press.”
Findlay will host Northwood (1-3) at 7 p.m. Monday in another nonleague game against a former Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team.
NO. 14 FERRIS STATE (5-2)
Mayfield 0-4 0-0 0, Adway 3-7 0-0 6, Thrower 12-6 4-5 35, Hughes 6-13 3-3 18, Williams 3-7 2-2 8, Kelser 3-3 1-2 8, Bow 0-0 0-0 0, Tinsley 3-5 1-2 8, Peterson 0-0 0-0 0, Pline 0-2 2-4 2, Walker 3-3 1-2 8. TOTALS: 33-60 14-20 92.
No. 13 findlay (4-0)
Masterlasco 5-9 5-6 15, Overhiser 6-8 5-5 20, White 6-12 5-6 17, Smith 3-5 7-8 15, Schmock 2-9 0-1 5, George 5-8 0-0 12, Singleton 0-1 0-0 0, Linder 6-9 1-2 16, Stover 1-2 1-1 3. TOTALS: 34-63 24-29.
3-Point GOALS: Ferris State 12-22 (Mayfield 0-1, Adway 0-1, Thrower 7-8, Hughes 3-6, Williams 0-2, Kelser 1-1, Tinsley 1-3); Findlay 11-25 (Masterlasco 0-2, Overhiser 3-4, Smith 2-3, Schmock 1-7, George 2-4, Linder 3-4, Stover 0-1).
rebounds: Ferris State 29 (Kelser 6); Findlay 34 (White 10).
ASSISTS: Ferris State 14 (Hughes 4); Findlay 24 (Smith 8).
STEALS: Ferris State 7 (Hughes 2); Findlay 6 (Smith & White 2).
BLOCKS: Ferris State 0; Findlay 1 (Overhiser).
TURNOVERS: Ferris State 15; Findlay 12.
TOTAL FOULS: Ferris State 25; Findlay 17.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 47-43.