By ANDY WOLF
COLUMBUS — When facing a double-digit deficit with only a few minutes to go, nearly everything has to go perfectly and then some.
The University of Findlay men’s basketball team completed a comeback for the ages, outscoring Ohio Dominican 15-2 in the final 3:06 to exit with a 82-79 win in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play Thursday at Alumni Hall.
“I just can’t tell you how proud I am of our team,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “Today was a big step in terms of maturity. We made a lot of plays late. Our guys kept battling.
“Not only that, but guys battling that didn’t get much rest.”
The Oilers improve to 18-5 overall, 12-4 in the GLIAC.
The Panthers (13-10, 8-9) led as many as 12 points in the second half and 77-67 before UF made its move.
Martyce Kimbrough’s second-chance 3-pointer from the left corner completed UF’s comeback and tied the game 79-79 with 57.1 seconds to go.
“Toughness,” Kimbrough said. “Being mentally tough, guys not giving up. Ohio Dominican is a great team and took a lead on us. We just rallied together, said we had to continue to play hard, take it one possession at a time and get defensive stops down the stretch.”
On the ensuing inbounds pass, ODU’s Ben Casanova stepped over the baseline, resulting in a turnover.
The Oilers quickly drew up an inbounds lob from Ricardo Smith to Taren Sullivan who converted the two-handed tip-in for the go-ahead bucket.
“We work on a lot of things for late game situations with our team,” Ernst said. “On that very play, we tied it up, pressed.
“(Assistant) coach (Dan) Shardo looked at me and we both called that play because we wanted to have the last shot. We figured we’d catch them off guard because (ODU) was still reeling from the turnover, the tie game.”
Back at the other end, Casanova got a point-blank look but an unfriendly roll off the rim fell into Sullivan’s hands.
Sullivan split the one-and-one and ODU’s Sam Hickey hooked a contested 3-pointer, trying to avoid a foul, that went way off target as the final seconds ran out.
“Part of the game is making breaks for yourself,” Ernst said. “They made some tough shots in the second half, got some separation from us. It didn’t look good.
“When you win a game like that you remember the shots that go down but what you find out there were steals, deflections and rebounds.”
Sullivan set a new career high with 29 points, 5 of 9 from downtown, while tallying eight points, and three steals.
Kimbrough put in four treys in a 22-point night with four assists and three steals.
As the tide shifted towards UF’s side late in the game, Kimbrough felt the momentum and confidence in knowing his game-tying 3-ball was good.
“Plays like that just give you a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence,” Kimbrough said. “The last shot, it was being able to be confident and step up and knock it down.”
UF’s Elijah Kahlig had four points in the final run to total 10 for the game.
Tyler Stern-Tucker added 11 points.
Ronnie Williams led the Panthers with 22 points, going 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Liberty-Benton grad and ODU junior Adam Cytlak had three points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Panthers shot 51.9 percent (14 of 27) in the second half, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range.
“When they shoot like that, they get you spread out,” Ernst said. “And when they spread you out they go inside. That’s what good teams do. That’s what we do.
“Really our best flurry of defense was the last three minutes of the game, which is surprising because Taren (played) 38 minutes, Martyce 38 minutes, Elijah 35 minutes, Tyler 32 minutes.”
FINDLAY (18-5, 12-4 GLIAC)
Sullivan 10-18 4-6 29, Stern-Tucker 5-11 1-1 11, R. Smith 2-4 0-0 4, Kimbrough 9-15 0-0 22, Kahlig 4-6 0-0 10, Singleton 1-2 2-3 4, T. Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Overhiser 1-5 0-0 2. TOTALS: 32-63 7-10–82.
OHIO DOMINICAN (13-10, 8-9 GLIAC)
DeLeon 1-2 0-0 2, Varence 5-8 4-4 15, Waugh 3-10 3-5 11, Williams 6-10 6-6 22, Cytlak 1-5 0-0 3, Hickey 4-8 0-0 11, Casanova 5-9 5-6 15, Simon 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25-53 18-21–79.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 37-36.
3-POINT GOALS: Findlay 11-25 (Sullivan 5-9, Kimbrough 4-8, Kahlig 2-4, Stern-Tucker 0-2, Overhiser 0-2); Ohio Dominican 11-26 (Williams 4-7, Hickey 3-6, Waugh 2-5, Varence 1-1, Cytlak 1-5, Casanova 0-1, Simon 0-1).
REBOUNDS: Findlay 33 (Sullivan 8, Overhiser 6); Ohio Dominican 30 (Varence 8, DeLeon 6).
ASSISTS: Findlay 13 (Kimbrough 4, Kahlig 3); Ohio Dominican 17 (Waugh 7, Williams 7 Cytlak 3).
STEALS: Findlay 11 (Sullivan & Kimbrough 3); Ohio Dominican 9 (Waugh 4).
BLOCKS: Findlay 1, Ohio Dominican 1.
TURNOVERS: Findlay 16, Ohio Dominican 18.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 18, Ohio Dominican 13.
FOULED OUT: None.