FINDLAY - Tiffin University was in a slump.
The men's basketball team had lost three-straight games, and was coming off a disheartening 96-78 loss to Hillsdale at the Gillmor Center Thursday.
"Everybody in the program felt bad by our last two efforts," TU coach John Hill said. "We were disappointed, we were down."
So, if you're struggling, the last play you want to go is Croy Gymnasium in Findlay, where the Oilers had won 81 consecutive home games.
The Dragons, stunningly, proved otherwise.
After Findlay took a 2-0 lead to start the game, Cody Dennison hit a 3 to put Tiffin up, 3-2.
It never lost the lead.
Behind 14 points from Dennison, 13 from Joe Graessle and some outstanding rebounding from Eric Roby (12 rebounds) and Jonathan Sutherlin (10), the Dragons did the remarkable, beating the powerhouse Oilers, 57-55.
Hill said the groundwork for the upset was laid Friday.
"Yesterday was one of the best practices we had in three years," Hill said. "We started over."
Findlay probably wishes it could after Saturday's shooting effort. The Oilers were a North Pole-cold 4 of 30 (13.3 percent) in the first half, and Tiffin led 30-22 at the break.
"We did as good a job as you possibly could defensively," Hill said. "Everybody stepped up, everybody did what they had to do."
The second half didn't go much better for the Oilers, and the Dragons began extending their lead. When Mike Boan delivered a layup with 6:03 to go in regulation, Tiffin led, 48-35.
It wasn't unfamiliar territory for the Dragons. Three years ago in the season finale against the then-defending national champion Oilers, TU built a 13-point lead late, only to see Findlay rally and win.
And sure enough, UF came back again on Saturday. It cut TU's lead to 55-53 on a Jack Smith trey with 23 seconds left.
The Oilers immediately fouled Dennison, who had split his two free throw attempts in the game.
But this time, the senior was money.
He made both free throws, and Tiffin upped its lead to 57-53.
The Oilers then missed three shots on their final offensive possession before Greg Kahlig scored a layup just before the buzzer.
No matter. The upset was complete.
"We kept our poise," Hill said. "Just a huge win for everybody in this program."
Tiffin (6-9, 3-7 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) got 11 points and four rebounds from Boan, eight points from Sutherlin, six rebounds from Graessle and six rebounds from a returning Michael Bouley, who came off the bench.
Findlay (10-4, 7-3) shot 22 percent (14 of 63) from the field for the game. Kahlig and Aaron Robinson each had 10 points, while Jake Heagen had nine to go with 12 boards.
It marked the Dragons' second-consecutive win over Findlay. The Dragons won against it at Gillmor Center last season.
Kwiat keeps making noise for ONU
LYCOMING, Pa. - Calvert graduate Kyle Kwiat set the Ohio Northern University career win record Saturday and three Heidelberg wrestlers went 3-0 at the two-day Lycoming College Budd Whitehill Duals.
Kwiat posted four technical falls, a pin and a major decision to move his win total to 135, two better than the former mark set by two former national champions - in 1989 by Vinny Cameron (133-27-3) and in 2011 by Luke Miller (133-29).
"At the beginning of the year, one of my main goals was to get the record," Kwiat said.
"I needed about 20 wins to get it and I've been averaging 35 to 40 win a year, so I knew I could get it. It was definitely within my grasp," he said.
Along the record, teammates and family presented him with a commemorative poster and Kwiat talked on the phone with Cameron, a friend of his coach.
"That was cool, to be able to talk to the former record holder," he said.
The senior, the defending 174-pound national champion, improved to 135-16 in his career and 22-3 this year.
His effort Friday and Saturday helped the No. 19 Polar Bears claim fifth overall. Six of the 16 teams entered the tournament ranked in the top 25.
Heidelberg 197-pounder Andy Lovins, 174-pound Jeremy Stepp and 165-pounder Justin Wharton each went 3-0. The Student Princes ended 1-2 and did not place.
Depth helps Student Princes in OAC win against Otterbein
WESTERVILLE - With the game on the line a freshman stepped up to save Heidelberg and send it to its fourth-consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference win.
Heidelberg had led by as many as 13 in the second half, but saw its lead cut to two - 59-57 -with 2:34 to go after a layup by Otterbein's Andy Yazrombek.
Ishaam Smith, a freshman who had scored two points up two that point, calmly drained a 3-pointer. He added two free throws and another 3 over the rest of the game, and HU pulled away for 70-63 win in Westerville.
"(Smith) stepped up down the stretch," said Heidelberg coach Anthony Gholson.
Two other players scored in double digits for the Student Princes while five others contributed points to help snatch up a 70-63 at Otterbein.
Dane Givner tossed in 16 points and tallied four assists while Quintin Aden added had 10 points.
Nate Davis chipped in seven points and grabbed six of Heidelberg's 22 rebounds.
Heidelberg got a big lift off the bench from post player Doug Waldmannstetter, who had 11 points in 10 minutes of play.
Gholson said Otterbein had good post players, and he used Waldmannsetter to combat them.
"All of our guys have a lot of confidence," Gholson said. "There are certain games for certain people, and this was a game he could play in."
Zach Bakenhaster netted 18 points for Otterbein (5-10, 2-6).
Heidelberg improves to 9-6 overall and an even 4-4 in the OAC.
Oilers rally for win over Tiffin women
FINDLAY - Jillian Adams made two foul shots with 3:20 left, and Tiffin University held a 58-54 lead over rival Findlay.
But the Dragons scored just three points the rest of the way, and the Oilers rallied to knock off TU, 67-61 Saturday.
Jessica Harris had another big game for Tiffin with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Stephanie Kelly added 14 points and five assists while Melissa Gilliland also had 14 points.
But the Dragons (7-7, 4-6 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) made just 7 of 23 second half shots.
"We just weren't able to capitalize on anything down the stretch," Tiffin coach Pam Oswald said. "I thought our kids played extremely hard ... we just couldn't get over that hump."
Findlay was led by Kayla Brown, who had 13 points. Findlay improved to 11-3, 8-2 in the GLIAC.
Oswald praised the effort of her seniors, who she said were geared up for the rivalry game.
"They know the clock is ticking," Oswald said. "From our seniors, we got nothing but their best efforts."