By BRIAN LESTER
Jim Wiedie needed a minute to collect his thoughts. And no one can blame him for it.
It’s been a trying year for him as the first-year head coach of the University of Findlay women’s basketball team, and another tough night in the gym unfolded Monday night as the Oilers let a lead and an opportunity slip away in a 66-61 loss to Hillsdale at Croy Gymnasium.
The loss cuts the Oilers’ chances of making the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. UF is in 11th. The top eight make the tourney.
“We’re running out of opportunities. That is really frustrating,” Wiedie said. “We play well in stretches. We need to figure out how to put teams away. We make a run and play well, and then, in a span of about five minutes, we’re a totally different team.”
The Oilers (9-10, 6-9 GLIAC) led 49-41 with just more than 10 minutes to play after a 3-pointer by Karli Bonar.
But that is where it all changed.
The Chargers (9-10, 8-7 GLIAC) roared to life and drilled four straight 3-pointers, two by Kelsey Cromer and two by Ashlyn Landherr, as they took a 53-49 lead with 7:14 to go. Hillsdale never looked back.
“We have what we call ‘red’ where if the shot clock gets under 15, we go from zone to man,” Wiedie said. “I was screaming ‘red, red, red,’ and at least two, if not three, of those 3-pointers, there was no one on the shooter. It’s a total lack of communication with each other in crucial parts of the game.”
Those 3-pointers were part of a 16-0 run for the Chargers. Yet, the Oilers managed to battle back behind strong play from Margaret Wuebker.
Wuebker hit two free throws to cut the Hillsdale lead to 62-57, and her blocked shot led to an easy layup on the other end for Kristin Klausing, trimming the lead to 62-59.
Wuebker then knocked down a jumper and pulled the Oilers to within one at 62-61 with 46.8 seconds left.
Ciara Geiger had an opportunity to tie the game at 64 but her 3-pointer rolled in and out and the Chargers held on for the win.
The Oilers shot only 35 percent (21 of 60) from the field and Geiger led the way with 13 points. Wuebker finished with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Hillsdale shot 48.9 percent (23 of 47) from the floor and had four players in double figures, including 18 from Megan Fogt.
The Oilers managed to force 27 turnovers but turned the ball over 20 times themselves, wasting opportunities to put the game away.
“We have no killer instinct,” Wiedie said. “The kids are great. I love our players, but when it comes to being competitive and putting your foot down on somebody, we can’t do it. I’m not sure if that will change, but we need to realize we need to play 40 minutes to win games.”
UF struggled early and it looked as if it would be a long night as it trailed 20-11 midway through the opening half.
The Oilers missed several good scoring opportunities during that stretch but soon came to life and closed the half on a 20-8 run for a 31-28 lead at the break.
Karli Beasley helped fuel the run with a layup and 3-pointer and Geiger drilled a trey as well that gave the Oilers their first lead at 23-22 with 6:32 left.
A layup by Kaleigh Kenny and two free throws by Geiger put the Oilers up 31-28 at the half.
The Oilers led by as many as 10 in the second half after a layup by Kenny put UF in front 44-34.
UF will look to bounce back Thursday night when it battles Ohio Dominican (8-11, 5-10 GLIAC) in a 6 p.m. game at Croy Gymnasium.
hillsdale (9-10, 8-7 gliac)
Bisaro 1-2 0-0 2, Fogt 5-9 8-11 18, Cromer 5-9 0-0 13, Landherr 4-5 0-1 10, Berry 2-5 5-6 9, Moynes 0-1 0-1 0, Farrell 5-11 2-2 12, Geffert 0-2 0-0 0, Lloyd 0-0 0-0 0, Lowery 1-3 0-1 2. TOTALS: 23-47 15-22 66.
Findlay (9-10 6-9 GLIAC)
Wuebker 1-5 8-8 10, Beasley 2-8 0-0 5, Klausing 1-3 0-0 2, Geiger 5-13 2-3 13, Bonar 1-8 0-0 3, Klein 0-1 2-2 2, Kenny 3-5 0-0 6, Andrews 1-5 0-0 2, Gunning 2-7 2-3 7, Kessler 1-1 0-0 2, Lewis 4-4 1-2 9. TOTALS: 21-60 15-18 61.
3-Point GOALS: Hillsdale 5-13 (Cromer 3-5, Landherr 2-3, Berry 0-2, Farrell 0-1, Geffert 0-1, Lowery 0-1); Findlay 4-24 (Bonar 1-7, Beasley 1-5, Geiger 1-4, Gunning 1-4, Andrews 0-2, Kenny 0-1, Klein 0-1).
rebounds: Hillsdale 40 (Fogt 15); Findlay 33 (Beasley 6, Geiger & Kessler 5).
ASSISTS: Hillsdale 12 (Berry 8); Findlay 13 (Geiger 3).
STEALS: Hillsdale 7 (Fogt 3); Findlay 12 (Wuebker, Geiger & Bonar 3).
BLOCKS: Hillsdale 6 (Fogt 4); Findlay 2 (Wuebker & Geiger).
TURNOVERS: Hillsdale 27, Findlay 20.
TOTAL FOULS: Hillsdale 18, Findlay 22.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 31-28.
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