By ANDY WOLF
The University of Findlay men’s basketball team is coming out of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with two very different victories.
After dismantling Northern Michigan by 44 points Thursday, the Oilers couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief until the final buzzer sounded Saturday.
Findlay’s Tyler Stern-Tucker got a layup to go with 5.5 seconds remaining and Michigan Tech couldn’t match it as the Oilers got a hard-earned 72-70 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at the SDC Wood Gym.
Huskies freshman Tommy Lucca tried a 3-pointer from inside the timeline as time expired but couldn’t connect.
“It’s a sense of relief that’s just really hard to describe,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “I’m just really proud of our team.
“I thought our energy level, once again, was at a high level. That’s a credit to the players. We challenged them. We’ve got a break. ‘Let’s put it all on the line today.'”
The Oilers improve to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the GLIAC. They swept UP teams on the road for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Stern-Tucker not only made the go-ahead shot, but came up with a steal on the previous possession.
“I told him in the locker room in front of the team, ‘that play was just as big as your finish,'” Ernst said.
Stern-Tucker finished with 12 points and three rebounds off the bench.
Taren Sullivan racked up 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists while fellow junior Elijah Kahlig matched his career highs of 22 points and six 3-pointers.
Sullivan and Kahlig traded clutch 3-pointers with the Huskies in the final four minutes of the contest of a tight game.
Michigan Tech’s Jason Hawke started the barrage with a triple to put his team up 64-61.
Kahlig and Sullivan answered with treys on consecutive possessions for a 67-64 UF lead.
After Jason Chartier tied at 67, Kahlig tickled the twine again with a long-range bomb seconds later.
Yet the lead was short lived as Chartier finished the stretch of six 3-pointers in the last seven combined possessions, prompting the last tie at 70-70.
“I would’ve been more worried if we weren’t hitting threes and they continued to hit them,” Ernst said. “We were changing our defenses about every time down the floor. We were switching between three different defenses.
“They kind of got loose on us a couple times and made some tough shots. It was just a heck of a college basketball game in the last five minutes.”
UF leading scorer Martyce Kimbrough only managed a season-low three points on 1 of 9 shooting from the field. He had scored at least 10 points in every game prior to Saturday.
Ernst noted Chartier’s job defensively on Kimbrough, making it tough for him to find a clean look.
Yet the attention on Kimbrough meant Michigan Tech didn’t have another piece like Chartier to keep Kahlig quiet.
“He’s been on the cusp of one of these nights,” Ernst said of Kahlig. “Give Martyce credit. We had a timeout and called a set going to Martyce’s side.
“He asked for a switch to put Elijah on that wing. (Martyce) said (Elijah’s) got the hot hand.”
The Oilers led 35-29 at halftime but had to play catch-up after the Huskies opened the second half on an 18-4 run.
UF kept the damage to a minimum, never trailing by more than nine points before completing the comeback.
Lucca, a true freshman, led the Huskies with 19 points but committed five turnovers.
Kyle Monroe, last year’s GLIAC Freshman of the Year, had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Ernst credited Sullivan’s defense as the difference in shutting down Monroe.
“I told (Lucca) after the game, ‘I’m glad I’m not going to have to figure out ways to guard you in the next three years,'” Ernst said as the Oilers leave the GLIAC at the conclusion of the season.
“The future is bright for Michigan Tech. They’ve got some of the best young talent in the league and this is just a really good win for our team.”
Michigan Tech shot 41.4 percent and attempted a season-high 33 3-pointers. They only made eight of those, finishing at a season-worst 24.2 percent.
FINDLAY (7-3, 4-2 GLIAC)
Sullivan 9-14 3-3 25, White 1-3 0-0 2, R. Smith 0-3 2-4 2, Kimbrough 1-9 0-0 3, Kahlig 7-13 2-2 22, Ruthsatz 0-0 0-0 0, Singleton 2-2 0-0 4, Stern-Tucker 5-9 2-2 12, T. Smith 1-3 0-0 2, Overhiser 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 26-56 9-11–72.
MICHIGAN TECH (5-6, 3-2 GLIAC)
Monroe 5-13 3-4 13, Grazulis 4-5 0-0 8, Lucca 6-13 5-5 19, Chartier 4-11 0-0 12, Heath 2-8 4-4 9, Gordon 0-1 0-0 0, Uren 0-0 0-0 0, Gregory 0-2 0-0 0, Hawke 3-5 2-2 9, Schuller 0-0 0-0 0, Stoll 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 24-58 14-15–70.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 35-29.
3-POINT GOALS: Findlay 11-27 (Sullivan 4-5, Kimbrough 1-7, Kahlig 6-11, Stern-Tucker 0-2, T. Smith 0-2); Michigan Tech 8-33 (Monroe 0-4, Lucca 2-7, Chartier 4-10, Heath 1-7, Gordon 0-1, Gregory 0-2, Hawke 1-2).
REBOUNDS: Findlay 31 (Sullivan 8); Michigan Tech 34 (Monroe 10).
ASSISTS: Findlay 16 (Sullivan 9); Michigan Tech 17 (Chartier 7).
STEALS: Findlay 7 (Sullivan & T. Smith 2); Michigan Tech 8 (Monroe & Gregory 2).
BLOCKS: Findlay 1, Michigan Tech 1.
TURNOVERS: Findlay 13, Michigan Tech 10.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 15, Michigan Tech 13.
FOULED OUT: None.
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