By Zach Baker
Tiffin’s Jordan Fraley tries to get past Findlay’s Ciara Geiger Saturday at the Gilmor Center.
Tiffin University not only had to overcome Findlay Saturday at Gillmor Center, it needed to overcome itself.
It almost pulled it off.
Deidre McKay's 3-point attempt from the right corner at the buzzer came up just short. Had it gone, the Dragons would have forced overtime. As it was, they lost to the Oilers 69-66.
The Dragons had a chance at the end despite facing a 14-point first-half deficit, numerous defensive breakdowns and 28 turnovers.
TU also was without senior guard Karli Mast, who's injured.
"Bottom line, we had different people at different times play undisciplined," said TU coach Pam Oswald, whose team fell to 5-9, 2-8 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. "I'd like to know how many of those turnovers were unforced."
Findlay coach Jim Wiedie said the Oilers like to bring pressure defensively.
"That's the key to our whole style of play," he said. "We felt (coming in) that they didn't handle the ball well enough against double teams."
The Dragons struggled offensively in the first half, making just 6 of 21 shots from the floor (28 percent). They trailed 40-27 at the break, and were only that close became they went to the free throw line 19 times, making 15.
But TU got back into things quickly in the second half, thanks to the long range shooting of Kaylee Patton. She hit three 3s from the left side in the first four minutes, part of an 13-4 run that shaved the Oilers' lead to 44-40.
Patton finished with 11 points off the bench.
"Patton was clutch for us," Oswald said.
From there, the game remained tight. Tiffin tied the game at 50 on an Anya Misko layup with 8:56 left. But the Oilers, behind the solid post play of Margaret Wuebker, came back to grab the lead.
Wuebker finished with a team-high 14 points and 11 rebounds. And despite Tiffin finishing with a 42-28 rebounding advantage, the Oilers dominated the paint, scoring 34 points.
Findlay led by eight with about two minutes left, but a baskets from Jillian Adams and a 3 from Katie Miller brought the Dragons to within 66-63 with 1:11 left.
Findlay moved the ball down court, and TU defended well as the shot clock went under 10 seconds.
But then Ciara Geiger was left wide open on the left wing. She drained a 3 with 38 seconds left, pumping her fist before being greeted by her teammates after a TU timeout.
"What a big shot," Wiedie said.
Oswald said it was a defensive breakdown.
"Geiger gets a wide open look, an uncontested shot," she said. "We don't have anyone there."
But TU got another 3 from Miller to make it a three point game with 27 seconds on the clock, the Dragons' Jordan Fraley fouled Kristin Klausing, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Adams got the rebound with less than 20 seconds left.
Then TU almost threw the ball away before Oswald called timeout with 2.5 seconds left, which set up McKay's attempt.
Geiger finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Karli Bonar also had 11 points, to go with eight assists, for Findlay (7-7, 4-6). Klausing had seven assists.
"We needed this one," Weidie said.
Tiffin's Jordan Fraley had a team-best 15 points. Miller had 12 to go with seven rebounds, and McKay had eight assists. Anya Misko led the team with eight boards.
"I felt that we played hard and battled," Oswald said. "It was a step in the right direction."