By BRIAN LESTER
TIFFIN — We all remembered what happened the last time the University of Findlay men’s basketball team played Tiffin University.
The Oilers were embarrassed on their home floor by the Dragons, turning in their worst shooting performance of the season and playing with no energy or intensity in a 57-55 loss.
But Saturday afternoon in front of a raucous crowd at the Gilmor Center, the Oilers painted a picture of just how good they can really be when they play up to their potential on both ends of the floor.
Their offense was clicking as they shot nearly 50 percent (48.3) from the field and got a huge lift from Greg Kahlig, who torched Tiffin for a career-high 33 points.
Four other players scored at least 10 as the Oilers rolled to an 81-60 win over a Dragons team that was fired up and energized for Findlay’s visit to town.
But as good as the Oilers were offensively, they were equally impressive on defense. Findlay has been a good defensive team all season, holding its last 13 opponents to 70 points or less, but on Saturday, it took its defensive effort to another level.
Joe Graessle was jacking up 3-pointers and knocking them down at will in the opening half for the Dragons, who trailed just 34-33 at the half.
In the second half, Graessle couldn’t buy a shot to save his life. He scored just four points in the second half and 20 on the day.
With Graessle out of the picture, the Dragons had no one else to turn to, no one else who could catch a break against the Oilers’ unforgiving defensive effort.
Tiffin went from shooting lights out — 54.2 percent in the opening half — to having the lights turned out as it connected on 33.3 percent of its shots in the second half.
The Oilers took control of the game with their defense, and their effort on that end of the floor generated energy on offense as Findlay pulled away for its most convincing win of the season.
This was the kind of game we were looking for from this team, the kind of game you knew the Oilers had the potential to play.
Yes, Findlay has had its share of up-and-down moments, but this is the time of the year where good teams rise up and bad teams start thinking about next season.
The concerns with this Findlay team faded a little more after the win over Tiffin and it appears the Oilers are hitting their stride at just the right time.
If the Oilers can play at the level they played at Saturday, they have an opportunity to accomplish their goals and be a very good team when it matters most.
Follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.