By ANDY WOLF
The University of Findlay men’s basketball team never trailed Tuesday night. But Alderson Broaddus stuck right with the Oilers.
UF turned to senior Taren Sullivan as its closer, and Sullivan scored six straight points late in the second half and assisted on the next score as the Oilers held off the Battlers for a 79-72 Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory at Croy Gymnasium.
“I just try to stay mentally aggressive and know if I catch it where I want it, I can be able to score on anyone, or at least create for someone on the team,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan finished with 23 points to lead Findlay (12-2, 7-0 GMAC), just one fewer than fellow senior Martyce Kimbrough who led the Oilers with a game-high 24 points.
Kimbrough put on one of his better shooting nights of the season in going 9 of 18 overall with six 3-pointers in 10 attempts.
Sullivan, who added six rebounds and three assists, used two free throws, two post buckets and a dish to a cutting Kimbrough to give UF a 75-67 lead with 2:33 remaining.
ABU (7-4, 2-3), which had just pulled to within 67-64 at the 5-minute mark, never came within a possession of the Oilers again.
“He didn’t settle tonight,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said of Sullivan, his team’s leading scorer at 18.9 points per game. “He made some tough shots, but they were point-blank shots.”
Findlay, arguably, played its cleanest game of the season.
The Oilers not only lead wire-to-wire, but committed a season-low two turnovers, were whistled for just five fouls and didn’t let ABU get to the free throw line.
“We played more zone today, which was good, and we pressed more today than we have all year,” Ernst said. “They all played a part in some of those stats.”
For the first time in four GMAC contests, Findlay held a halftime lead. It was even a comfortable one at 47-37.
Although the Battlers opened the second half on an 8-0 run, the Oilers answered with a 9-0 spurt of their own.
Ernst said that response by his team was a key point in the game.
“That showed a lot of maturity on our guys’ part,” he said.
ABU was able to hang around thanks to a barrage of contested 3-pointers in the second half.
The Battlers buried 7 of 16 from downtown in the second half, a stark contrast after going 3 of 13 in the first half.
At one point, five of their six scores over an eight-minute span came from outside the 3-point arc.
“We’ve struggled all year to figure out if it’s our defense, or if teams just make tough shots against us,” Ernst said. “In the first half, I thought they made some very tough shots that I thought we defended them pretty well.”
ABU’s Mike Davis sank four 3-pointers en route to a team-high 22 points.
Malik Bocook added 12 points and nine rebounds while Brandon Willis had 10 points and six rebounds.
UF’s Elijah Kahlig added 11 points and Alex White had 10 points, both in starting roles.
Kahlig, normally a spot-up sharpshooter, is 1 of 10 from long range in his last two game. But he’s shown a knack for scoring in other ways, twice pulling up from the foul line for a jumper and driving for two more buckets.
Ernst didn’t feel the Oilers were living and dying by the 3-ball despite shooting only 32 percent (8 of 25).
Collectively, they knocked down 48.5 percent (32 of 66) from the field.
“I thought we found enough other ways to score,” Ernst said. “We got the ball to the paint. We forced some turnovers, scored off of those. Elijah got there a couple times, Alex got there with some offensive putbacks. (Liberty-Benton grad) Anthony (Masterlasco) got a putback in the first half.”
Alderson Broaddus (7-4, 2-3 GMAC)
Davis 9-19 0-0 22, Bocook 6-9 0-0 12, Willis 4-8 0-0 10, Dortch 3-4 0-0 6, Mitchell 2-5 0-0 5, Sanders 2-6 0-0 5, Harper 2-4 0-0 5, Mills 2-7 0-0 4, Watkins 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 31-63 0-0 — 72.
Findlay (12-2, 7-0 GMAC)
Kimbrough 9-18 0-0 24, Sullivan 8-13 6-7 23, Kahlig 5-10 0-0 11, White 5-10 0-0 10, Overhiser 2-6 0-4 4, Gardner 1-2 1-2 3, Schmock 1-3 0-0 2, Masterlasco 1-2 0-0 2, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Ashley 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 32-66 7-13 — 79.
3-Point GOALS: Alderson Broaddus 10-29 (Davis 4-10, Willis 2-6, Mitchell 1-2, Harper 1-3, Watkins 1-1, Sanders 1-5, Bocook 0-1, Mills 0-1); Findlay 8-25 (Kimbrough 6-10, Sullivan 1-3, Kahlig 1-6, White 0-1, Gardner 0-1, Smith 0-1, Schmock 0-1, Overhiser 0-2).
rebounds: Alderson Broaddus 38 (Bocook 9); Findlay 31 (Sullivan 6).
ASSISTS: Alderson Broaddus 23 (Davis 6); Findlay 14 (Smith & Gardner 4).
STEALS: Alderson Broaddus 2; Findlay 7 (White 4).
BLOCKS: Alderson Broaddus 2 (Dortch 2); Findlay 1.
TURNOVERS: Alderson Broaddus 13; Findlay 2.
TOTAL FOULS: Alderson Broaddus 14; Findlay 5.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 47-37.