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Oilers struggle offensively in loss to Huskies



HOUGHTON, Mich. — University of Findlay men’s basketball coach Charlie Ernst watched the Oilers miss out on opportunities to put points on the board against Michigan Tech University Thursday night at the SDC Gymnasium.

UF had plenty of good looks. The shots sinply wouldn’t go down as the No. 13 Oilers shot only 34 percent from the field and lost 66-49 in this Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest.

“It was a frustrating game, maybe more frustrating than the game against West Liberty (90-74 season-opening loss),” Ernst said. “We definitely had plenty of chances to make shots. They just didn’t go in.”

UF (4-2, 2-1 GLIAC) struggled out of the gate, falling behind 9-3 in the opening minutes of play. The Oilers managed to battle back, though, and cut the deficit to 27-24 at the break after a 3-pointer by Jake Heagen.

Heagen finished with 17 points on a night when UF connected on only 18 of 54 shot attempts from the floor, including a 6-of-24 showing from beyond the arc.

“I give a lot of credit to Tech. They are a very good basketball team and their game plan was to stop us inside,” Ernst said. “They were going to take their chances from the 3-point line, and they would have two or three bodies on us everytime we got the ball inside. It eventually started to affect other parts of our game.”

With 12:24 to go in the game, the Huskies (4-2, 2-1) opened up a 38-29 lead, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Aaron Robinson and Heagen trimmed the deficit to 40-35.

MTU eventually stretched its lead to 16 after Austin Armga (16 points) converted on a 3-point play and Alex Culy scored on a jumper to give the Huskies a 53-37 advantage with a little over seven minutes to play.

The Oilers closed the gap to 53-45 on a layup by Mark Frilling but could do little else the rest of the way as the Huskies pulled away and handed UF a loss in its first road game of the season.

MTU shot 46.7 percent (21-of-45) from the field and held a 35-30 edge on the boards. GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year Ali Haidar lived up to his hype as he scored 22 points to go along with 15 rebounds.

“We needed to get stops and get easy baskets off of turnovers, and we weren’t able to do that enough to get back into the game,” Ernst said. “I thought we did some things well and we played hard. It just wasn’t our night.”

Robinson was the only other player in double figures for the Oilers, clicking for 12 points. Leading scorer Greg Kahlig, who was averaging 19.4 points per outing, was limited to 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting.

While the Oilers were hoping to start this two-game trip off with a win, all they can do now is focus on earning a split when they play Northern Michigan at 1 p.m. Saturday in Maquette.

“This is a brutal trip and we’ve prepared for it in so many different ways over the years,” Ernst said. “The thing we have to do is play with every ounce of energy we have on Saturday and come out of here with a win. It’s a big game for us.”

FINDLAY (4-2, 2-1 GLIAC)

Heagen 5-8 3-4 17, Kahlig 2-10 0-0 4, Piehl 2-8 1-2 5, Samsel 0-4 0-0 0, Robinson 5-12 0-0 12, Baity 3-6 3-5 9, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Kaufman 0-2 0-0 0, Frilling 1-2 0-1 2. TOTALS: 18-53 7-12–49.

michigan tech (4-2, 2-1 GLIAC)

Haidar 7-14 8-9 22, Culy 2-4 2-3 7, Armga 5-10 5-5 16, Brown 1-2 1-1 3, Stelzer 2-7 2-2 7, Chartier 0-1 0-0 0, Hecht 0-1 0-0 0, Heller 0-0 0-0 0, Romback 4-6 1-2 11. TOTALS: 21-45 19-22–66.

HALFTIME: Michigan Tech, 27-24.

3-Point GOALS: Findlay 6-24 (Heagan 4-5, Robinson 2-6, Baity 0-1, Smith 0-1, Kaufman 0-1, Piehl 0-2, Kahlig 0-4, Samsel 0-4); Michigan Tech 5-19 (Romback 2-4, Armga 1-1, Culy 1-3, Chartier 0-1, Hecht 0-1, Haidar 0-3).

rebounds: Findlay 30 (Frilling 6, Heagen 5); Michigan Tech 35 (Haidar 15). ASSISTS: Findlay 6 (Samsel 3); Michigan Tech 9 (Culy & Brown 2). STEALS: Findlay 8 (Heagen & Robinson 2); Michigan Tech 6 (Romack 3). BLOCKS: Findlay 1, Michigan Tech 1.

TURNOVERS: Findlay 11, Michigan Tech 12. TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 18, Michigan Tech 12. FOULED OUT: None.

Follow me on Twitter @BLester1993 or send me an email at brianlester@thecourier.com.