Oilers strike in 2nd half
By Zach Baker
Joe Graessle fought through a double team on the right wing, faded away and took a deep 3. It went in just before the first-half buzzer.
The near-capacity Gillmor Center crowd – at least the half of it that wasn’t dressed in orange – went crazy. Tiffin trailed Findlay, 34-33 at the half, but its star was on fire.
Graessle had made 6 of 8 shots and had 16 points.
He had gone shot for shot with Findlay’s Greg Kahlig, who had 15 points, and the Dragons had stood with the first-place Oilers in the first half.
Tiffin, which stunned the Oilers in Findlay last month, had a history of playing up to Findlay’s level at the Gillmor Center, beating UF here a season ago. It looked for all the world like another tight game was coming.
But instead, a couple of things happened.
Graessle cooled off, and no one else for TU picked up the slack. Meanwhile, Kahlig didn’t slow down and the Oilers didn’t slow down at all. As a result, the game ended as an 81-60 blowout by Findlay.
Kahlig had a career day, recording 33 points and seven rebounds. He made 11 of 18 shots and seven 3s. By contrast, Graessle made just 2 of 10 shots after the half.
“(Joe) cooled off, and Kahlig kept going,” Tiffin coach John Hill said. “A couple of times, they shot, we stood (on defense).”
Hill also wasn’t happy with the 12 offensive rebounds the Oilers got.
“Instead of stopping them and getting the ball, we stopped them, they got the ball,” Hill said.
Findlay improved to 15-6, 12-5 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“We were motivated,” Findlay coach Charlie Ernst said. “Tiffin, they didn’t just beat us [in January], they out-hustled us, they out-scrapped us. They did all those things the first time they played us, and I give them a lot of credit, because not many teams have done that.
“Our guys were motivated today. I didn’t know if we could win it, but I wanted to make sure they didn’t out-scrap us.
Both coaches said Findlay’s 1-3-1 trap was key to the outcome.
“They struggled to figure out our 1-3-1,” Ernst said. “When we started mixing up our defenses, I think it kept (Graessle) from running screens and getting the ball where he normally is comfortable and confident getting it.”
Graessle was blanketed much of the day, and had to deal with Findlay’s best defender, Aaron Robinson. Robinson had just two points, but led the way in a strong defensive effort from Findlay.
“(Our team), player-wise, wasn’t prepared for the 1-3-1-trap and the way they ran it,” TU assistant Jerry Buccilla said. “When our guys know they should get into a four-out set, I think it surprised them, and we went right into their wing trap instead of hurting them with the spread.”
Brad Piehl had 10 points and eight rebounds for Findlay, while Alphonso Baity had nine. But the star was Kahlig, who scored a career high.
“Anytime you have one player that gets hot, that especially helps on the road,” Ernst said.
Tiffin got 11 points from Mike Boan in falling to 8-14, 5-11.