TIFFIN — Ciara Geiger rolled off the screen after making a pass to Karli Bonar and was wide open from beyond the arc.
This was her moment to shine, her moment to deliver in crunch time for the University of Findlay women’s basketball team in a tight game against Tiffin at the Gillmor Center.
She didn’t disappoint.
Geiger worked herself open in front of the UF bench and drained a 3-pointer that put the Oilers up six with 39 seconds to play.
Geiger smiled, pumped her fist and was mobbed by teammates after the shot and the Oilers held on for a 69-66 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over the Dragons Saturday afternoon.
Deidre McKay launched up a last-gasp 3-pointer as the final seconds ticked away, but the ball grazed the rim and landed in the hands of Geiger as time expired.
“It was exciting. The whole team was excited,” Geiger said. “I knew we needed a shot. I saw Karli and got her the ball, thinking she would score, but I turned around and was wide open.”
And her confidence in the moment was sky high on a day when she finished with 11 points.
“I knew I could pop out there and hit it,” Geiger said.
Geiger has struggled this year despite coming to UF after a remarkable two-year run with Urbana where she scored 995 points and was the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year last season.
But she scored 27 in a 79-72 overtime loss to Ohio Dominican on Thursday and kept the momentum going against the Dragons.
“It has been frustrating, but my teammates have been awesome,” Geiger said. “I knew things would click in time and I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable in the offense.”
UF head coach Jim Wiedie said the trey proved as much.
“Her confidence level has improved, and that game on Thursday really helped,” Wiedie said. “And boy, what a shot. She has been in enough big games to hit those shots. It was huge.”
The Oilers (7-7, 4-6 GLIAC) had lost two consecutive games and needed a win to revive their hopes of staying in the South Division title race. UF is currently third in the division.
A 10-0 run gave UF momentum early as the Oilers surged in front 15-9 after a jumper by Kelsey Lewis.
The Oilers limited the Dragons (5-9, 2-8) to only six field goals in the first half, digging in defensively and denying good looks at the basket.
Back-to-back treys by Nikki Gunning and Bonar helped the Oilers close the half with a 40-27 lead.
But winning wasn’t going to be that easy. The Dragons came to life when Kaylee Patton knocked down three straight treys to slice the Oilers’ lead to 44-40 with 15:50 to play.
“We had a good first half. We played with energy and we executed,” Wiedie said. “But we were a little complacent in the second half. We didn’t move as well defensively, we weren’t as active and we weren’t making shots.”
Tied at 50-50 after a layup by Anya Misko, the Oilers surged back in front 56-50 on a free throw by Kaleigh Kenny, a 3-pointer by Gunning and a layup off a steal by Ashley Andrews.
The Oilers made just enough plays, however, to finish the job and end a three-game conference road losing streak. UF shot 45.9 percent (28 of 61) from the field and scored 32 points off 28 turnovers.
“We made enough plays when we needed to,” Wiedie said. “We got some shots to fall and we got stop at the end.”
Geiger made several key plays, including a steal near the TU bench that set up Gunning’s layup for a 50-44 advantage. It was one of four steals by Geiger, who also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists.
Margaret Wuebker led the Oilers with 14 points and nine rebounds. Gunning scored 12 points and Bonar hit three treys en route to scoring 11.
Jordan Fraley led the Dragons with 15 points. TU shot 40 percent (20 of 50) from the field.
This win was important for several reasons, including helping the team’s confidence.
“We’ve had some tight games and let some wins get away,” Wiedie said. “A team can have such a fragile psyche when things don’t go your way. This was a big confidence builder.”
Geiger said the win should help the Oilers carry momentum into Thursday’s 6 p.m. game against defending NCAA Division II national champion Ashland at Croy Gymnasium.
“It definitely sets us up going forward,” Geiger said. “We’re excited and we feel confident that we can keep things going in the right direction.”
FINDLAY (6-7, 3-6 GLIAC)
Wuebker 5-4–14, Beasley 2-0–4, Andrews 1-0–2, Geiger 5-0–11, Bonar 4-0–11, Kenny 1-1–3, Klausing 2-1–5, Gunning 5-0–12, Kessler 2-1–5, Lewis 1-0–2. TOTALS: 28-61 7-12 — 69.
TIFFIN (5-8, 2-7 GLIAC)
Adams 3-3–9, Nauman 0-2–2, McKay 1-3–5, Miller 3-4–12, Fraley 6-3–15, Storlie 0-0–0, Misko 2-4–8, Patton 3-2–11, Farr 2-0–4. TOTALS: 20-50 21-27 — 66.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 6-19 (Bonar 3, Gunning 2, Geiger); Tiffin 5-12 (Patton 3, Miller 2).
rebounds: Findlay 28 (Wuebker 9); Tiffin 42 (Misko 9).
ASSISTS: Findlay 24 (Bonar 8); Tiffin 16 (McKay 8).
STEALS: Findlay 14 (Geiger 4); Tiffin 3 (Fraley, Storlie & Misko).
BLOCKS: Findlay 4 (Wuebker 2); Tiffin 2 (Adams & Misko).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 20; Tiffin 28.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 26; Tiffin 19.
FOULED OUT: None.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 40-27.
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