By BRIAN LESTER
It was no secret that the University of Findlay men’s basketball team was going to have to hang its hat on great defense to get the job done against rival Grand Valley State Monday night at Croy Gymnasium.
The Lakers love to play physical and they never lack intensity. The Oilers needed to match it and on a night when a game in mid-December had so much riding on it, they found a way to do it.
UF took down the Lakers 64-60 in a pivotal Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown and proved it can be be very tough to beat when it pours all of the energy it has into playing hard on the defensive end of the floor.
Yes, the Oilers did struggle early against the Lakers, getting beat time and again for easy shots in the paint, but when push came to shove and defensive plays needed to be made, they rose to the occasion.
In the past, we have seen UF teams overwhelm opponents right out of the gate with their tenacity on defense. But this team seems to play its best defense as the game wears on.
“We get better defensively the longer we play,” UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. “We have had teams that have buried opponents in the first five minutes with tremendous pressure. For this team, once we figure out what we want to do on defense, we play well from there.”
The Lakers scored 16 of their points in the first 10 minutes of the game and seemed to struggle to find a rhythm as the game wore on.
The Oilers challenged the Lakers on the perimeter and in the paint and their effort proved key on a night when they shot only 34.8 percent from the field.
UF does have a lot of good shooters and there will be nights when its clicking on all cylinders offensively.
But sometimes the shots just don’t fall. Defense can be a constant because it’s based on effort.
The Oilers proved as much Monday night in their crucial conference win over the Lakers.
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