By BRIAN LESTER
Will he or won’t he score 40 points in a game? It has become the question of the hour when it comes to Greg Kahlig.
But after back-to-back performances of reaching the mark, the senior forward was a little more human on Saturday afternoon in the University of Findlay’s game with Malone University.
He only scored 39.
The Oilers managed to survive without much trouble, rolling to a 79-63 victory over the Pioneers at Croy Gymnasium.
Kahlig probably would have scored 40 had he remained in the game for the final two minutes. But his 3-point shot, one where he took a couple of jab steps against his defender before letting the ball fly with 2:14 remaining, capped his day and helped catapult the Oilers to their eighth consecutive win.
The victory also clinched a share of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division championship thanks to Walsh University’s 86-73 loss to Hillsdale College on Saturday.
Kahlig has scored 40, 42 and 39 points in his last three games. Once again, his teammates were showered with credit.
“My teammates did a good job of finding me,” Kahlig said. “They made some nice passes that led to easy layups and my confidence got going after that. It’s a big win for our team and the fans were great today. I couldn’t be happier.”
Kahlig drilled five treys and was 14 of 24 from the field. He also grabbed seven rebounds, and had three assists and four steals as the Oilers (21-4, 17-4 GLIAC) completed a season sweep of the Pioneers (14-11, 12-9), who came in on a five-game win streak.
“I hope people realize what they have been witnessing, and just how special it is,” UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. “There isn’t anything Greg can’t do on the offensive end. He scores in every way possible.”
While Kahlig is a big-time scorer, he is willing to share the ball, even with the fans. One pass that ended up in the lap of a fan in the student section late in the game, but that turnover had no bearing on the outcome.
“He probably should have shot it that time, but he threw it to the lady in the third row,” Ernst said with a laugh. “People would laugh if you say Greg is unselfish when he goes for 40, 42 and 39. But if you watch us play, you can see that he is unselfish.”
Mark Frilling had an outstanding game as well. At one point in the first half, the senior forward grabbed a defensive rebound on five consecutive possessions, limiting the Pioneers to one shot. Frilling finished with a season-high 11 rebounds and scored four points.
“It was just another day for me. I went out and played hard as I always do,” Frilling said. “Malone has some talented big guys, and it took a great effort to defend them. I just focused on playing as hard as I could.”
His rebounds came at a crucial time as the Pioneers made a run to get back in the game.
Stephen O’Daniel helped lead the comeback as he drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the score at 21-21 with 8:18 to go in the first half. UF responded as Kahlig knocked down a 3-pointer and scored on a putback before Frilling sliced through the lane for a layup to put the Oilers in front 28-21.
Those shots helped fuel a game-changing 14-0 run that ended with Frilling scoring one more time on a layup with a little more than three minutes remaining to halftime.
Dylan Kaufman’s jam on a fast break gave the Oilers a 39-24 advantage at the break. UF capped the first half on an 18-3 run and never looked back.
The Oilers shot 50 percent (30 of 60) from the field. The Pioneers, who got 12 points apiece from O’Daniel and Cory Veldhuizen, shot 41.1 percent (23 of 56).
“You don’t want a good team like Malone hanging around, or bad things can happen,” Kahlig said. “Defense is a big part of our identity as a team. We are getting stops when we need them, and that is what it’s all about at this time of the year.”
Ernst said the Oilers continue to make strides on defense, especially in their zone.
“Our zone is different than what other teams play, and we are getting better in it,” Ernst said. “If we can rebound in our zone, and we have proven we can, it’s our ticket to a long postseason run. We want to be able to play two defenses equally well, and go to either one depending on the team and the matchups. It’s the next step for us.”
The next game is Thursday night as the Oilers travel to Michigan to battle rival Hillsdale in an 8 p.m. regular-season finale.
An outright division title will be on the line as well as a chance to rise even higher in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional rankings. UF entered this week at No. 8. The top eight make the tournament.
The Oilers could also clinch home-court advantage throughout the GLIAC tournament if conference leader Lake Superior State loses one of its final two games.
MALONE (14-11, 12-9 GLIAC)
Veldhuizen 5-2–12, Stone 2-0–4, Richardson 3-2–9, Elliott 3-0–7, Graves 2-0–5, Miller 3-0–8, Bapst 0-0–0, O’Daniel III 3-3–12, Kazmierczak 2-0–5, Gingerich 0-1–1, Wise 0-0–0. TOTALS: 23-56 8-11 — 63.
FINDLAY (21-4, 17-4 GLIAC)
Heagen 5-1–11, Kahlig 14-6–39, Frilling 2-0–4, Baity 2-2–6, Kaufman 2-0–5, Gardner 0-0–0, Samsel 1-0–3, Smith 1-1–3, Staley 2-0–4, Baldwin 0-0–0, Stern-Tucker 0-0–0, Jones 1-2–4, Kohls 0-0–0. TOTALS: 30-60 12-18 — 79.
3-Point GOALS: Malone 9-24 (O’Daniel III 3, Miller 2, Kazmierczak, Richardson, Elliot & Graves); Findlay 7-21 (Kahlig 5, Kaufman & Samsel).
rebounds: Malone 34 (Wise 6); Findlay 34 (Frilling 11).
ASSISTS: Malone 10 (Elliot 5); Findlay 15 (Heagen & Baity 4).
STEALS: Malone 2 (Veldhuizen & Elliot); Findlay 9 (Kahlig 4).
BLOCKS: Malone 5 (Stone 2); Findlay 3 (Heagen 2).
TURNOVERS: Malone 12; Findlay 6.
TOTAL FOULS: Malone 16; Findlay 9.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 39-24.
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