By BRIAN LESTER
DETROIT —- It’s not always easy finding a ray of light in the darkness of defeat, but on Saturday afternoon in Detroit, in a pivotal Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game against Wayne State, the University of Findlay men’s basketball team showed a lot of promise.
The No. 24 Oilers lost 65-61 in overtime here at The Matthaei, and no matter how you slice it or dice, losing is never fun, especially to a rival, especially in a game Findlay should have won.
The Oilers dominated early, leading by as many as 11 in the opening half, and it seemed like they were going to roll to an impressive win on the road that would have catapulted them into a tie for first place in the conference.
They played hard from start to finish, and they played well despite not having starting forward Jake Heagen, who sat out after suffering a cut above his eye on Thursday night against Saginaw Valley State.
What Findlay couldn’t do, though, was take care of the basketball. The Oilers turned the ball over 23 times and the Warriors turned those miscues into 25 points.
You can get away with turnovers against Doormat State. But against a quality opponent, turnovers will spell doom.
The Warriors scored often on fast breaks and the momentum they gained from forcing so many turnovers allowed them to rally for a win and nullify a solid defensive effort by the Oilers.
“We didn’t do a good job of protecting the ball. You hope if you do turn it over, that you throw the ball out of bounds are maybe you travel,” Findlay head coach Charlie Ernst said. “But you don’t want to just give them the ball because there is no defense for a two-on-one break.”
No there isn’t, but while it was difficult to watch the Oilers lose a game they know they should have won, the mistakes they made against the Warriors can be fixed. And you better believe Findlay will fix those mistakes because it still has plenty to play for this season.
“It’s on all of us, including the coaching staff, to get better at taking care of the ball,” Ernst said. “Our effort, though, there is no question we brought our A-Game effort and you need to have that to have a chance to win games.”
As long as the Oilers continue to bring that kind of effort and clean up the turnovers, they are going be in good shape in the long run.
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