By ANDY WOLF
TIFFIN — The University of Findlay men’s basketball team didn’t want to play too much into the hands of an up-tempo Tiffin University team.
The Oilers did, at times, beat them at their own game and chose the right times to run for many first-half scoring runs.
Findlay built a 21-point lead by halftime and kept the Dragons at bay for an 84-65 Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory at the Gillmor Center on Saturday.
“Our running game starts with our defense,” UF coach Charlie Ernst said. “We were getting stops, clean rebounds, clean outlets and that is really the difference between scoring and not scoring in transition, is the rebound and the outlet.
“We were able to get those cleanly in the first half. We forced them into some quick shots, they didn’t have any offensive rebounders.”
Joshua Williams scored a game-high 24 points with four 3-pointers to lead the Dragons (7-10, 1-6 GMAC).
The Oilers (10-5, 5-1 GMAC), winners of their last six games, had five players reach double figures in scoring and were led by freshman Nathan Bruns’ 20 points. Tommy Schmock also went for 15 points, eight assists and four steals.
Findlay led for nearly 37 of the 40 minutes, only falling behind once at 7-6 early on.
The Oilers responded with the next 10 points and 16 of 19 to lead 22-10 at the 10-minute mark.
“Compared to last year it was a thing of beauty,” said Ernst of the start, referring to his team falling behind by 22 points in the first half and still winning. “Last year we dug a hole because we had a lot of bad possessions.”
Findlay also closed the half with 16 of the final 20 points to lead 44-23 at halftime — edging Tiffin 11-3 in fast-break points.
UF’s Chazz George led all players with nine points and five assists in the first half off the bench. He finished with 12 points and six assists — all season highs.
The difference to George, who fed five teammates for his five assists in the first half, was sticking to the game plan.
Still, Findlay likes to run when it can for easy buckets.
“We can’t take bad shots because they were rushing us into pressure,” George said. “We executed our game plan. We knew they were going to take quick and bad shots, therefore our emphasis was rebounding and making outlet passes, getting to good spots.”
Meanwhile, the Dragons couldn’t get shots to fall.
Outside of scoring in second chance or a lone three-point play in transition, Tiffin struggled to get its half-court offense functioning and shot 29 percent (9 of 31) in the first half.
“We didn’t make shots, got a little stagnant offensively and when you’re not scoring, defensively you tend to break down a bit,” Tiffin coach Tom Church said. “Our turnovers hurt us the most. Our kids played hard. I was happy with our effort but offensively we just didn’t make shots in the first half.”
George’s effort was one of many big contributions off UF’s bench.
Senior forward Andrew Emrick converted all three of his post moves for six points in the first half and, also in the first half, freshman point guard Joey Edmonds stepped in to take a big charge.
Bruns, who has started nine games this season, erupted for 15 points in the second half.
The Dragons didn’t go quietly in the second half, even outscoring Findlay 42-40, but never cut the score below 15 points.
Though in the critical, early minutes of deficit management in the second half, Tiffin had no answer for Bruns.
The 6-foot-7, 210-pounder muscled his way on the blocks to 11 straight UF points in a six-minute span.
He finished his night by knocking in his third career 3-pointer in the final minute for the Oilers’ last points.
“He’s a big, strong physical kid,” Ernst said. “It’s a physical game when he’s down in there, especially when we have him and (senior forward) Aaron (Overhiser) in there together.
“For a freshman, he was hungry tonight down low.”
UF sophomore Ethan Linder put in five points on an off shooting night (2 of 8) but contributed a career-high 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals at the two-guard position.
“He seemed active on the glass the whole day,” Ernst said. “… It shows you he can be more than just a scorer. That’s been the development of Ethan Linder since he’s been here.”
FINDLAY (10-5, 5-1 GMAC)
Masterlasco 6-8 0-0 12, Stover 1-4 0-0 2, Overhiser 5-15 0-0 11, Schmock 6-10 1-2 15, Linder 2-8 0-0 5, George 4-5 2-5 12, Bruns 9-13 1-1 20, Emrick 3-3 0-0 6, Edmonds 0-2 0-0 0, Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Wildermuth 0-0 1-2 1. TOTALS: 36-68 5-10 — 84.
TIFFIN (7-10, 1-6 GMAC)
Jordan 1-7 0-0 2, J. Williams 8-19 4-6 24, Schaub 0-3 0-0 0, T. Williams 3-11 0-0 8, Turner 1-4 0-0 3, Hickman 4-7 0-1 8, Stevens 6-10 4-7 17, Terry 1-3 0-0 3. TOTALS: 24-64 8-14 — 65.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 7-18 (Overhiser 1-5, Schmock 2-4, Linder 1-4, George 2-3, Bruns 1-1, Edmonds 0-1); Tiffin 9-29 (Jordan 0-1, J. Williams 4-9, Schaub 0-3, T. Williams 2-8, Turner 1-3, Stevens 1-3, Terry 1-2).
rebounds: Findlay 42 (Linder 11); Tiffin 36 (J. Williams & Stevens 7).
ASSISTS: Findlay 19 (Schmock 8); Tiffin 10 (Jordan & Turner 3).
STEALS: Findlay 11 (Schmock 4); Tiffin 6 (J. Williams 2).
BLOCKS: Findlay 2 (Linder & Bruns); Tiffin 4.
TURNOVERS: Findlay 10; Tiffin 14.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 12; Tiffin 14.
FOULED OUT: Findlay (Linder); Tiffin (none).
HALFTIME: Findlay, 44-23.