By BRIAN LESTER
Margaret Wuebker didn’t hit the deciding shot in the University of Findlay’s game against Saginaw Valley State on Thursday, but her 3-point play midway through the second half provided a momentum boost that helped propel the Oilers to an eventual 66-56 win in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball game.
With the Oilers trailing 45-44, Wuebker flashed into lane and put up a jump shot. As she released the ball, Wuebker drew contact from Saginaw Valley’s Briana Graham. After the ball found the bottom of the net, the sophomore forward flashed a smile, clapped her hands and exchanged high fives with her teammates, knowing she had delivered a much-needed shot of momentum for the Oilers.
The ensuing free throw put the Oilers (6-5, 3-4 GLIAC) ahead 47-45 with 9:36 left to play, and although it wasn’t the decisive shot, the Oilers fed off the intensity en route to the win at Croy Gymnasium.
“It was exciting to make that play,” Wuebker said. “It raised our intensity and helped get us going for the rest of the game.”
In a game in which the lead changed hands 14 times, Saginaw Valley State (6-4, 4-3) reclaimed the lead on two more occasions.
Down 50-47 after a 3-pointer by Saginaw Valley’s Kristen Greene, Ashley Andrews scored on a layup and Ciara Geiger hit a jumper to put UF in front 51-50 with 7:41 to go. Karli Bonar’s 3-pointer gave the Oilers the lead for good at 54-52 with 5:31 left to play.
Former Riverdale standout Lacey Kessler helped finish the game off for the Oilers, scoring seven points down the stretch, including two on a hard drive to the basket. Fouled on the play by Graham, Kessler’s free throw put the Oilers in front 61-53 with 1:47.
The Oilers did the rest behind a tenacious defensive effort, trapping and pressing often as they forced 30 turnovers and scored 33 points off those miscues. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Findlay.
“We struggled at times on offense, but I thought the key for us tonight was our defensive intensity,” UF head coach Jim Wiedie said. “I also thought we competed hard, and this was a win we really needed. It was good to see our team play well in a big game.”
Wuebker helped the cause. She finished with 15 points despite playing the last 9:23 with four fouls. Foul trouble has plagued Wuebker throughout this season.
“It’s something I’ve struggled with, but my teammates are always supportive,” Wuebker said. “I definitely feel a lot more comfortable this year, though. Last year was more of an adjustment year for me. I feel like I’m playing a lot better and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Bonar was the only other player in double figures for the Oilers as she clicked for 10 points. Kessler scored 9 points and helped trigger the defensive effort with four steals.
The Oilers shot 40 percent (24-of-60) from the field while the Cardinals shot 42.6 percent (20-of-47) from the floor. Greene led the Cardinals with 17 points.
Nothing came easy for the Oilers, who had lost their last four GLIAC games, as UF and SVSU went back and forth throughout the first half.
UF led 11-9 and 14-12 after 3-pointers by Geiger and Kaleigh Kenny. But after going in front 17-15 on a 3 by Andrews, the Cardinals battled back and led by as many as five before taking a 33-30 lead into halftime.
For the Oilers, the win could provide a big lift. The Oilers take on Wayne State (10-1, 7-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Croy Gymnasium in a game that could have some revenge factor for Findlay. The Warriors eliminated the Oilers from the NCAA tournament last year.
“This win gets us back over .500 on the year and hopefully it can get us going,” Wiedie said. “This is a win we need to build on.”
SAGINAW VALLEY (6-4, 4-3)
Zizrow 2-5 0-0 4, Herrington 1-3 1-1 3, Womack 5-8 0-0 13, K. Carriere 1-8 1-2 4, Greene 5-10 3-4 17, Green 0-0 0-0 0, D. Carriere 1-6 0-0 3, Graham 5-7, 2-4 12. TOTALS: .20-47 7-11–56
findlay (6-5, 3-4)
Kenny 1-4 0-0 3, Wuebker 6-7 3-3 15, Beasley 1-6 2-4 4, Andrews 2-8 2-2 7, Bonar 3-10 2-2 10, Klausing 2-3 0-0 4, Gunning 1-4 0-0 3, Kessler 3-7 3-5 9, Geiger 4-8 0-0 9, Lewis 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS: 24-60 12-16–66.
3-Point GOALS: Saginaw Valley 9-23 (Womack 3-4, K. Carriere 1-6, Greene 4-9, D. Carriere 1-4); Findlay 6-25 (Kenny 1-1, Beasley 0-3, Andrews 1-3, Bonar 2-9, Gunning 1-4, Kessler 0-2,Geiger 1-3).
rebounds: Saginaw Valley 42 (Greene 15); Findlay 27 (Wuebker 8).
ASSISTS: Saginaw Valley 13 (Herrington 4); Findlay 14 (Beasley 6).
STEALS: Saginaw Valley 4; Findlay 18 (Kessler 4).
BLOCKS: Saginaw Valley 3, Findlay 3 (Lewis 2).
TURNOVERS: Saginaw Valley 30, Findlay 11.
TOTAL FOULS: Saginaw Valley 17, Findlay 18.
FOULED OUT: Saginaw Valley (Graham).
HALFTIME: Saginaw Valley, 33-30.