By ANDY WOLF
HILLSDALE, Mich. — Points came at a premium Saturday for the University of Findlay and Hillsdale College men’s basketball teams.
On a night when the Oilers scored their season-low, they also turned in their strongest defensive effort to produce a 59-50 Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory at Dawn Tibbets Potter Arena.
“It was one of those slugfests,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “Part of the low scoring was you’ve got two very good defensive teams, two veteran teams, and on top of that two teams that had had all week to prepare for one another.
“When you have one day to prepare vs. seven days, it makes a difference.”
Ernst added that his team put in a lot of thought and effort during the long week of practice out of respect for Hillsdale, knowing how well the Chargers play at home.
As a result, Findlay (17-2, 11-0 GMAC) earned its 13th straight victory.
The Oilers, who are up at least three games in the loss column on the rest of the GMAC field, sent the Chargers (13-4, 7-3) to their first home loss in nine games.
Neither team shot well Saturday.
Hillsdale managed 40.4 percent (21 of 52) overall, 4 of 18 from 3-point range and only 4 of 7 at the foul line.
Findlay did a little better at 42.1 percent (24 of 57) and 5 of 20 on 3 pointers.
But when it mattered most, the Oilers knocked down plenty of clutch shots late, and the Chargers missed their final eight shots in the last 7:33.
UF’s Taren Sullivan scored a game-high 16 points, while Martyce Kimbrough chipped in 12.
Elijah Kahlig added nine points — seven coming in a four-minute span to help the Oilers retake the lead late in the second half.
Alex White (13 rebounds) twice assisted Kahlig on cuts to the basket that gave him wide-open layups. The first trimmed Hillsdale’s lead to 47-44, and the second put Findlay ahead 48-47 with 4:10 remaining.
Later in the run, Kahlig buried a contested 3-pointer late in the shot-clock to stretch the lead to 51-47 with 3:23 left to play.
“Isn’t that how the game works?” Ernst said with a laugh. “He made a couple of point-blank finishes off a couple great cuts to the rim where we found him. But we found him because he does that a lot. Our guys look for him a lot. After you make a couple of buckets at the rim, you feel a lot better about your opportunity to knock down a three.”
Kahlig had gone 2 of 12 on 3 pointers in a four-game stretch and missed his first three on Saturday before coming through in crunch time.
True freshman Tommy Schmock also made several key plays off the bench to help get UF out of a 44-37 rut.
The disruptive guard came away with a steal and dished off to Trey Smith, who knocked down the open transition 3-pointer from the left wing and cut the lead to 44-40.
Schmock quickly got another steal and took the ball all the way to the hole for the bucket and the foul.
Although Schmock missed the free throw, the layup helped the Oilers close to within 44-42. Ernst credited Schmock and Smith for helping shift the momentum.
“It’s kind of the way those guys go,” Ernst said. “It gives us an element that, really, few teams have. Here, Hillsdale is feeling like, ‘Hey, we’ve finally got ourselves a little bit of advantage here,’ and it didn’t take but a minute and it was a one-point game.
“It was (Smith’s and Schmock’s) defense, their quick hands, and they both knocked down threes.”
Schmock totaled seven points and four steals in just 16 minutes.
The Oilers got 12 points from the bench, a stat that Ernst said allowed the starters to get some extra rest down the stretch.
As a results, Findlay kept Hillsdale’s three best players in Nick Czarnowski, Nick Neveau and Stedman Lowry — each of whom played at least 32 minutes — at bay late in the game.
The 6-foot-8 Czarnowski scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, Lowry had all of his 15 points in the first half and Neveau collected only two points, three rebounds and four assists.
“Their wings were dead tired,” Ernst said. “We did a nice job of executing our offense. We were cutting; we were moving.
“That played a big part in our defensive ability because it wore down their guards, having to guard us. That made them less active in their motion offense. When you’re playing Hillsdale, your best offense can often become your best defense.”
Lowry missed all five of his second-half shots, four coming from beyond the arc.
Ernst said his defenders went into a mode of trying to make all of Lowry’s catches tough well before he saw fatigue set in.
“He’s a tough shot-maker,” Ernst said. “… We kept a fresh body on him at all times. I don’t know if it was any one thing, but it was a combination of a lot of things that helped.”
FINDLAY (17-2, 11-0 GMAC)
Sullivan 7-15 2-2 — 16, White 2-6 2-2 — 6, Gardner 2-2 0-0 — 4, Kimbrough 4-12 2-2 — 12, Kahlig 4-8 0-0 — 9, Smith 1-3 0-0 — 3, Schmock 3-5 0-1 — 7, Masterlasco 0-0 0-0 — 0, Ashley 0-2 0-0 — 0, Overhiser 1-4 0-4 — 2. TOTALS: 24-57 6-11 — 59.
HILLSDALE (13-4, 7-3)
Badowski 3-6 3-3 — 10, Behr 2-7 0-0 — 4, Czarnowski 6-11 1-2 — 13, Neveau 1-6 0-2 — 2, S. Lowry 6-15 0-0 — 15, Giannakopolous 0-1 0-0 — 0, Niego 1-1 0-0 —2, Larson 0-0 0-0 — 0, Cordes 0-0 0-0 — 0, D. Lowry 0-1 0-0 — 0, Yarian 1-2 0-0 — 2, Travlos 1-2 0-0 — 2, Richardson 0-0 0-0 — 0. TOTALS: 21-52 4-7 — 50.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 5-20 (Sullivan 0-3, White 0-2, Kimbrough 2-6, Kahlig 1-4, Smith 1-1, Schmock 1-2, Ashley 0-1, Overhiser 0-1); Hillsdale 4-18 (Badowski 1-2, Behr 0-2, Neveau 0-3, S. Lowry 3-9, Yarian 0-1, Travlos 0-1).
rebounds: Findlay 34 (White 13); Hillsdale 35 (S. Lowry 8).
ASSISTS: Findlay 9 (Sullivan, White & Smith 2); Hillsdale 9 (Neveau 4).
STEALS: Findlay 11 (Schmock 4); Hillsdale 4.
BLOCKS: Findlay 2 (Overhiser & Sullivan); Hillsdale 3 (Czarnowski 2).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 7; Hillsdale 16.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 13; Hillsdale 15.
FOULED OUT: None.