By BRIAN LESTER
If you look close enough at the University of Findlay’s season-opening loss to West Liberty State University Wednesday night at Croy Gymnasium, you will notice that one stretch of basketball late in the first half doomed the Oilers in a showdown of nationally ranked teams.
The No. 8 Oilers trailed 21-16 with 8:24 to play in the opening half. For the most part, they had kept the tempo of the game at their pace and they were within striking distance of the No. 1 Hilltoppers.
But in the blink of an eye, the shots started to go off the mark. UF missed four layups and three shots from beyond the arc. More crucial to their demise, however, was the fact that the Oilers turned the ball over nine times.
The Hilltoppers are very good and they capitalized just as they always do. They forced the Oilers into playing their style of fast-pace basketball and UF lost control of the game.
UF trailed 39-23 at the half, and while both teams scored 51 points in the second half, the final 8-plus minutes of the first half decided this basketball game.
Thirteen of the points the Hilltoppers scored in the opening half came off of turnovers. WLSU finished with 24 points off of 22 turnovers and shot 49.3 percent from the field.
The Oilers shot 44.6 percent from the floor. If UF would have found a way to cut down on the turnovers and had not rushed to take some shots, the outcome might have been different.
The thing about this game is there is no reason to worry about the Oilers. They have a lot of talent and a lot of depth and they aren’t going to run into many teams that play basketball the way the Hilltoppers play it.
The Oilers are going to be fine. They just need to play within their offense and take advantage of the shooters they have in the lineup and continue to get after it for 40 minutes on defense.
If they do those things, success will follow.
Losing to the Hilltoppers isn’t the end of the world. Sure, a win would have been great, especially at home, but a loss doesn’t turn all of their goals for the season into ashes.
It’s a long season and the Oilers have high hopes. So they need to put this season-opening loss behind them and prepare to bounce back.
Follow me on Twitter @BLester1993 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.