By BRIAN LESTER
CANTON — One good half, one bad half.
It’s the script the University of Findlay women’s basketball team has followed all season.
The trend continued Saturday afternoon.
After struggling through the opening half, the Oilers played inspired and energized in the second half, nearly rallying for a big road win before falling 71-65 to Malone at Osborne Hall.
All UF head coach Jim Wiedie could do afterwards was shake his head.
“It’s been our story all year long,” Wiedie said. “We play hard one half and don’t play hard the other half. We dig ourselves a hole and then battle back. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. But it’s been our pattern all year.”
The Oilers never got on track early, hitting only seven of their 31 attempts from the floor in the first half, and went into halftime down 34-20.
They spent most of the second half of this Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference encounter behind by double digits as well, but began a comeback attempt when Karli Bonar nailed a 3-pointer that sliced the Pioneers’ lead to 57-46 with 3:51 to go in the game.
Bonar came through with another trey moments later before Margaret Wuebker made a couple of big plays late for the Oilers (9-9, 6-8 GLIAC).
Wuebker scored on a layup to cut the MU lead to 61-52 and then came up with a steal and went all the way down the floor for a layup. She drew a foul on the play and the free throw cut the lead to 61-55 with 1:29 left.
Bonar would hit another trey, making it 65-59 and Ciara Geiger came through with back-to-back 3-pointers that brought UF to the cusp of a comeback win against the Pioneers (14-6, 9-5).
The Oilers trailed 68-65 with 19.7 seconds to go after the second trey by Geiger but were unable to get any closer as their two-game win streak ended.
“We finally started scoring a little bit and got them to play faster than they wanted to,” Wiedie said. “But we missed a rotation here and there and they were able to score to keep the lead.”
Malone leads the South Division, and while it certainly looked like a division title contender, the Oilers didn’t do themselves any favors to steal a road win.
“We are our own worst enemy,” Wiedie said. “We dig ourselves a whole and we are the only ones to blame. When we play hard and play with a lot of energy, we’re a pretty good team. When we don’t, we are average.”
Geiger paced the Oilers with 17 points, hitting four treys along the way, and Wuebker finished with 12 points, four rebounds and two steals. UF, which shot 31.7 percent (19 of 60) turned the ball over 17 times.
MU shot 40.7 percent (24 of 59) from the floor and got 17 points out of Sydnee Penn. Selana Reale added 12 points on a day when the Pioneers led from start to finish.
Winning a South Division title is unlikely as the Oilers are three games back with eight to play. But earning a conference tournament bid isn’t out of reach.
“The odds of winning the South are basically over,” Wiedie said. “What we need to focus on now is making the tournament. We have three big games at home this week and we have to hold serve.”
FINDLAY (9-9, 6-8 GLIAC)
Wuebker 4-4–12, Beasley 1-3–5, Andrews 0-4–4, Geiger 6-1–17, Bonar 3-0–9, Kenny 0-1–1, Klausing 2-0–4, Gunning 0-2–2, Kessler 1-3–5, Lewis 2-2–6. TOTALS: 19-60 20-31 — 65.
MALONE (14-6, 9-5 GLIAC)
Penn 5-5–17, Reale 2-7–12, Simmers 4-0–8, Pastor 0-1–1, Snyder 4-1–9, Zwayer 2-0–5, Myers 3-2–9, Libertore 2-1–5, Raifsnider 1-0–3, Bardall 0-0–0, Schaffter 1-0–2, Brandon 0-0–0. TOTALS: 24-59 17-27 — 71.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 7-23 (Geiger 4, Bonar 3); Malone 6-24 (Penn 2, Reale, Zwayer, Myers & Raifsnider).
rebounds: Findlay 38 (Beasley 6); Malone 48 (Snyder 8).
ASSISTS: Findlay 10 (Andrews & Kenny 2); Malone 18 (Reale 8).
STEALS: Findlay 9 (Geiger 3); Malone 9 (Penn 4).
BLOCKS: Findlay 3 (Wuebker 2); Malone 1 (Reale).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 17; Malone 22.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 21; Malone 26.
FOULED OUT: Findlay none; Malone (Simmers)
HALFTIME: Malone, 34-20
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