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Men’s Basketball: Oilers overpower No. 6 IUP

By ANDY WOLF
STAFF WRITER
The University of Findlay men’s basketball team returned a lot of firepower and in turn started the season with a bang Friday.
The No. 20-ranked Oilers never trailed No. 6 Indiana (Pa.), led by 18 at halftime and recorded a decisive 80-61 victory at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Evansville, Indiana.
“This is a very good team we beat,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “One thing that happens in these season openers especially, I don’t think either one of us are used to playing a season opener in a tournament that has an Elite Eight type of feel in terms of talent, opponents, returning players.
“I don’t think it’s out of realm of possibility that numerous teams that are here in this event will be in the Elite Eight this year. IUP very well could be.”
The Crimson Hawks were 28-4 a year ago with an NCAA tournament win and returned four starters, three who averaged double figures in scoring.
IUP averaged 77 points a contest last season but ran into a deeply experienced UF squad which played seven bench players to three by the Hawks.
Senior guard Elijah Kahlig (21 points) pumped six triples, five in the first half to help the Oilers take a 42-24 halftime edge.
The Oilers kept their lead in double digits the second half and went up by as many as 25 points under 5 minutes to go.
Normally a third-scoring option on the team behind Taren Sullivan (20 points) and Martyce Kimbrough (11 points), Kahlig routinely found clean looks from beyond the arc and knocked down 6 of 12.
Sullivan tied Kahlig with 13 attempts, hitting eight and also dished out six assists.
“He’s always capable of those (nights),” Ernst said of Kahlig. “If he continues to have consistent shooting games, he’s just another weapon that can step forward.”
Kimbrough rattled in two triples to put UF ahead 6-0.
But Ernst felt it was his team’s tenacious defensive effort that set the tone for a dynamic offensive first half in which the Oilers shot 51 percent (16 of 31), including 8 of 17 from beyond the arc.
UF was even more unstoppable in the second half, shooting 64 percent to finish at 57.1 (32 of 56) with 18 assists for the game.
“We have got to share the ball. We have to take pride in leading the country in assists,” Ernst said.
Tommy Schmock put in a solid UF debut, spelling starter Austin Gardner (four points) at point.
Schmock tallied four points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 17 minutes off the bench.
“He’s something else. He’s a crowd favorite in Evansville and I’m not just talking Findlay fans,” Ernst said. “He is a high-level defender, disruptive defender and he’s hard to keep out of the paint.”
True freshmen Anthony Masterlasco (Liberty-Benton, two points) and Brady Wildermuth (one point) also made their first UF appearances.
Anthony Glover (6 of 15) and Dante Lombardi (5 of 12) led IUP with 14 and 13 points, respectively, on off shooting nights. Lombardi committed seven of IUP’s 20 turnovers.
Findlay turns its attention to another top 10 team in St. Thomas Aquinas for day two of the HOF Classic with tipoff today at 3:30 p.m. The Spartans reached the Elite Eight last season and finished 28-6.
Ernst equated the matchup to one completely different from IUP.
“IUP wants to use size, execution and pound you on the glass,” Ernst said. “This team is going to press us for 40 minutes. … Our additional ballhandling and quickness is going to come into play in this game.”
St. Thomas Aquinas fell 84-79 to Ferris State on Friday.

FINDLAY (1-0)
Gardner 2-2 0-0 4, Sullivan 8-13 4-4 20, Kimbrough 4-5 0-1 11, Kahlig 7-13 1-2 21, White 3-6 0-1 6, Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Schmock 2-5 0-0 4, Masterlasco 1-1 0-0 2, Wildermuth 0-1 1-2 1, Ashley 1-2 0-0 3, Overhiser 4-4 0-0 8, Garverick 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 32-56 6-10—80.
INDIANA (PA.) (0-1)
Glover 6-15 1-2 14, Danielak 2-6 0-0 4, Lombardi 5-12 2-2 13, Brandwijk 2-6 1-1 5, Diaz 4-8 0-0 8, Vaughns 4-6 1-1 9, Miller 2-5 1-2 5, Hutton 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 26-59 6-8—61.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 42-24.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 10-24 (Sullivan 0-1, Kimbrough 3-3, Kahlig 6-12, White 0-3, Smith 0-2, Schmock 0-1, Ashley 1-2); Indiana 3-16 (Glover 1-4, Danielak 0-3, Lombardi 1-4, Brandwijk 0-1, Diaz 0-1) .
rebounds: Findlay 27 (White 8); Indiana 33 (Diaz 11).
ASSISTS: Findlay 18 (Sullivan 6); Indiana 8 (Lombardi 4).
STEALS: Findlay 7 (Schmock 3); Indiana 3.
BLOCKS: Findlay 1 (Sullivan 1); Indiana 2 (Miller 2).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 14, Indiana 20.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 16, Indiana 14
FOULED OUT: None.
Wolf: 419-427-8496,
andywolf@thecourier.com