By ANDY WOLF
Aaron Overhiser is certain he and his teammates honored their coach Charlie Ernst’s birthday to the fullest.
The eighth-year University of Findlay men’s basketball coach turned 49 on Saturday as his team posted its largest conference win this season by drubbing Ohio Valley 93-51 in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play at Croy Gymnasium.
“We played well at both ends of the court for 40 minutes and it really showed at the end of the game,” said Overhiser who scored a game-high 23 points.
“We kind of heard going into the game that it was his birthday today and just wanted to make sure we played well like we do every game.”
Especially on defense for Ernst.
The No. 17-ranked Oilers (14-2, 8-1 GMAC) allowed their lowest point total of the season to remain 9-0 at home and pick up their largest league win since demolishing Northern Michigan 100-56 in their GLIAC days in December 2016.
OVU fell to 5-8, 1-7.
“They’re a much better team than they’ve showed and played today,” Ernst said of OVU. “It was a sign of the fact that they’ve been on the road since Wednesday.”
A key subplot of the game was to be how the Oilers would deal with 6-foot-8, 245-pound David Adeyemo — the GMAC’s leading shot-blocker at 3.5 per game.
He recorded seven blocks in Thursday’s 80-60 loss at Hillsdale.
But any outplay of it Saturday went down the drain when Adeyemo picked up two fouls in the first 3:15 and sat for the next 7 minutes.
UF led only 18-12 when he returned but quickly committed his third foul just 1:43 later.
He never returned in the first half and the Oilers took a 41-20 lead into halftime.
They did so by dominating the paint points at a 30-6 advantage.
Overhiser scored 13 in the first half and didn’t miss in five attempts, one from 3-point range.
“Anytime you get a 6-8, 245-pound big man out of the game I think it helps, especially in the paint,” Overhiser said. “Even when he’s on the floor, we did a good job of scoring in the paint, pump-faking, doing the little things to get some good shots off.”
Adeyemo got only one block but it came with 3 minutes remaining and the Fighting Scots trailing 89-45. He totaled nine points and six rebounds, both team-highs.
The Oilers had no problem working around him to score in the paint.
But his absence led to three key dunks in the Oilers breaking the game open.
The first came as Overhiser spun around his man for a modest two-handed finish.
Overhiser got another a few minutes later to double Findlay’s lead at 24-12.
After Ethan Linder drove for a score, he grabbed the rebounded on Alex White’s missed 3-pointer and dished back to White who threw down a thunderous two-handed slam.
“Especially in Croy, it gets some energy going in the gym,” Overhiser said. “Basketball is a big momentum game and a few shots can get the crowd going, get your team going.”
Ernst is a huge advocate in getting his team to dunk whenever possible.
“It’s a good play because it’s a way to energize our team, just like taking a charge or blocking a shot or making a 3,” Ernst said. “… And it sends a message to your opponent that you’re going to be playing strong tonight — especially those two-handers by your bigs.
“Aaron’s dunks, he keeps it kind of simple but it’s always a message-sender.”
Later in the second half with the game well out of hand, Anthony Masterlasco opened a fast break off his steal and went uncontested for the two-handed slam.
The Liberty-Benton grad and sophomore totaled 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.
Chazz George went for 13 points while Ethan Linder added 12 points and five assists — both off UF’s bench.
Ernst got to empty his full bench by the 8-minute mark.
Corbin Linder, Ethan’s older brother, drained two 3-pointers and got a putback to match his career high of eight points.
Cooper Wall (two points) and Nick Ashley each played a season-high of five minutes.
“That’s always fun and it’s good to see because I ask a lot of those guys in practice and they will tell you I do and we will continue to do that,” Ernst said. “I talked with our team on Monday and it was specifically a message geared to our scout-team guys that their contributions to this team are huge in the last month of the season.
“The harder they practice and the more attentive they are to scouting report, the better prepared our first group will be.”
OHIO VALLEY (5-8, 1-7 GMAC)
Adeyemo 4-9 1-3 9, Miller 3-11 1-2 8, Alley 2-9 4-5 9, Harrison 1-4 0-0 3, Dobson 0-9 1-2 1, Hixson 1-2 2-2 5, Plants 3-6 1-1 8, Swoope 1-3 2-5 4, Vanadia 2-3 0-0 4, Black 0-3 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17-59 12-25 51.
FINDLAY (14-2, 7-1 GMAC)
Masterlasco 8-11 0-1 16, Overhiser 9-12 2-4 23, White 5-10 0-0 11, Smith 2-4 0-0 4, Schmock 0-3 3-4 3, George 6-9 0-0 13, Wall 0-0 2-2 2, E. Linder 5-11 0-0 12, Stover 0-2 1-2 1, Ashley 0-0 0-0 0, C. Linder 3-4 0-0 8. TOTALS: 38-66 8-13 93.
3-Point GOALS: Ohio Valley 5-21 (Miller 1-6, Alley 1-1, Harrison 1-3, Dobson 0-6, Hixson 1-1, Plants 1-2, Swoope 0-1, Black 0-1); Findlay 9-22 (Overhiser 3-6, White 1-3, Smith 0-1, Schmock 0-2, George 1-2, E. Linder 2-5, C. Linder 2-3).
rebounds: Ohio Valley 35 (Adeyemo & Alley 6); Findlay 42 (White 9).
ASSISTS: Ohio Valley 8 (Dobson 3); Findlay 22 (Schmock 6).
STEALS: Ohio Valley 1 (Miller 1); Findlay 8 (Masterlasco 3).
BLOCKS: Ohio Valley 2 (Adeyemo & Vanadia 1); Findlay 7 (White 5).
TURNOVERS: Ohio Valley 19; Findlay 10.
TOTAL FOULS: Ohio Valley 16; Findlay 19.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 41-20.