By BRIAN LESTER
PAINESVILLE — We saw the University of Findlay men’s basketball team deal with two tough losses last week.
The Oilers, so dominant at home over the years, had an 81-game home conference win streak end in a 57-55 loss to Tiffin University on Jan. 12.
Then came the one-point road loss to Ashland University on Thursday. An Oilers team that has been so good at stealing road wins over the years couldn’t make the big plays down the stretch and fell 61-60 to the rival Eagles.
It left the Oilers looking vulnerable and their mentality a bit fragile after playing hard but not getting the results on the scoreboard.
Two straight losses isn’t the worst thing in the world, but for a program that has lost two or more in a row only six times since 2000, two straight losses can feel like the sky is falling.
Part of it has to do with the fact that expectations have become insane since the national championship season 2009.
Findlay went 36-0 that year, but the reality is perfect seasons are so few and far between. There have been only four in D-II basketball since 1957. They are once-in-a-lifetime seasons for teams.
This Findlay team has struggled at times, but the Oilers took a big step forward on Saturday in their win 83-68 win over a tough Lake Erie College team here at the Osborne Center.
Rather than try to beat the Storm by shooting 3-pointer after 3-pointer, the Oilers adjusted their mode of attack and went inside first before looking to the outside.
It paid off.
Greg Kahlig scored 30, including 15 from beyond the arc, and the Oilers went 8-of-17 from 3-point range as a team. They did a lot of scoring in the paint and went 21-of-26 from the free-throw line.
The Oilers executed on the defensive end as well and never put themselves in a position where they had to worry about the game coming down to a single possession as it did against Tiffin and Ashland.
The win restored the confidence of the Oilers and kept them in the hunt for a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division title.
The key now is for Findlay to build on the win, understand that when it executes on offense and gets after it on defense, it is a tough team to deal with.
Follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.