By ANDY WOLF

STAFF WRITER

ROMEOVILLE, Ill — There will be no Sweet 16 for the University of Findlay men’s basketball team this year.

One of the coldest second-half shooting spells against an already-tough Bellarmine defense cost the Oilers a third-straight trip.

The Knights capitalized to earn a 74-59 victory in Sunday’s Division II Midwest Regional semifinal at Lewis University’s Neil Carey Arena.

The game was a rematch as the schools met in the same last stage and a rubber match as they’ve met in the tournament the past three seasons.

“If you’re playing Bellarmine in the national tournament, then you know you’ve had a really good season,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said.

“… We have a lot of respect for one another’s programs. It’s always a war. I’m really proud of our team. We defied the odds all year long, kept getting better.”

Findlay bows out at 28-5 overall — the sixth team in program history to win as many games.

The Oilers replicated last season’s record even after facing the tough task of replacing four senior starters.

“This team maybe surprised more people than any team we’ve had,” Ernst said.

Six-foot-seven forward Adam Eberhard scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Knights. He burned the Oilers for 18 in the first half and finished 12 of 17 overall.

UF was led offensively by its two seniors — Alex White and Trey Smith.

White put in team-highs of 26 points, eight rebounds and four steals while Smith hit three 3-pointers en route to 13 points.

No other UF player reached double figures.

The Oilers struggled to crack Bellarmine’s defense and shot 35 percent overall (21 of 60).

The Knights often collapsed on the ball in the paint, forcing UF to settle for 32 3-pointers, on a night it made just nine.

Bellamine also held a 28-16 edge in points in the paint.

“They’re pretty aggressive; they get their hands on a lot,” Ernst said of Bellarmine, defensively. “They’ve got great length and it sort of wears on you as the game goes on.

“Our guys battled. You just don’t get the passes you normally get. They recovered so well and got rim protectors when you do get by them — which isn’t often.”

White had 17 of his total in the second half. All other Findlay players combined for seven.

Smith’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half cut Bellarmine’s lead in half to 38-35, giving the Oilers some momentum going into the locker room.

It carried over as White scored nine straight in the first five minutes of the second half.

He hit a 3-ball to start, slammed home a dunk before adding two more buckets.

The spurt gave Findlay a 44-40 lead at the 15-minute mark.

But the Oilers didn’t score again until five minutes later as White converted a right hook from the right block.

By then, it halted a 10-0 Bellarmine run and they trailed 50-46.

A 3-pointer by Smith accounted for Findlay’s next field goal — again five minutes later.

The Knights went on an 8-1 run while the Oilers missed four 3-pointers and committed two turnovers.

Bellarmine’s C.J. Fleming answered Smith’s 3-ball on the very next possession and the Oilers never came within single figures the rest of the way.

Bellarmine also executed its motion offense efficiently at 59.5 percent (25 of 42), despite 15 turnovers.

Fleming (13 points) made 3 of 3 3-pointers off the bench and three other BU players chipped in eight points.

Ernst said his team did largely “what they wanted to do on defense.”

“We didn’t game plan for Eberhard to get 30,” he said. “He was tremendous tonight. But we guarded everyone else like we wanted.”

Eberhard was hot all game long, starting 9 of 11 from the field and making several tough shots over UF defenders.

“We literally had five different guys guarding him throughout the night,” Ernst said. “… but he’s so patient and reminiscent a year ago of watching (UF’s) Taren (Sullivan) against them.

“(Eberhard) is a senior All-American and he played like it tonight.”

FINDLAY (28-5)

Masterlasco 1-6 1-2 4, Overhiser 0-4 1-2 1, White 10-16 4-6 26, Smith 4-13 2-3 13, Schmock 3-9 0-0 8, George 2-6 0-0 4, Wall 0-0 0-0 0, E. Linder 1-4 0-0 3, Stover 0-1 0-1 0, C. Linder 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21-60 8-14–59.

BELLARMINE (28-4)

Weyer 4-9, 0-0 9, Corbett 3-4 2-4 9, Eberhard 12-17 6-6 30, Ramser 2-4 4-4 8, Jenkins 1-4 1-2 3, Palombizio 0-0 0-0 0, Cook 0-1 2-2 2, Penny 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Betz 0-0 0-0 0, Fleming 3-3 4-6 13, Penn 0-0 0-0 0, Chity 0-0 0-0 0, Schurfranz 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25-42 19-24–74.

3-Point GOALS: .

HALFTIME: Bellarmine, 38-35.

3-POINT GOALS: Findlay 9-32 (Masterlasco 1-3, Overhiser 0-3, White 2-5, Smith 3-9, Schmock 2-6, George 0-2, E. Linder 1-3, C. Linder 0-1); Bellarmine 5-14 (Weyer 1-5, Corbett 1-2, Eberhard 0-1, Ramser 0-1, Jenkins 0-2, Fleming 3-3).

TURNOVERS: Findlay 15, Bellarmine 15.

ASSISTS: Bellarmine 12 (Ramser 4, Eberhard 3); Findlay 10 (Smith 3).

STEALS: Findlay 9 (White 4); Bellarmine 7.

BLOCKS: Bellarmine 5 (Corbett 2); Findlay 1.

FOULS: Findlay 24, Bellarmine 17.

FOULED OUT: Findlay, Masterlasco.

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