By BRIAN LESTER
Greg Kahlig wore a look of frustration most of the night. Shots that normally go down simply didn’t for the University of Findlay’s top scoring threat.
Not much went right for the Oilers in general Thursday night against Walsh, and the end result was an 81-61 loss to the Cavaliers in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game at Croy Gymnasium.
Kahlig, averaging 22.3 points per game coming in, was 2 of 11 from the field. He missed five attempts from beyond the arc and managed only 8 points.
As team, the Oilers (13-4, 9-4 GLIAC) shot 36.2 percent (21 of 58) from the field and had no answer for the Cavaliers (13-3, 9-3), who seemed to click in every aspect.
“A lot of shots didn’t go in today for me, but credit them for that,” Kahlig said. “They played great. I thought we played hard, but they just beat us. There isn’t much else you can say.”
Findlay, which had its six-game win streak end, had its run of 14 consecutive home wins end as well. The loss was the Oilers’ fifth in the past 10 years at Croy.
The Cavs shot 45.6 percent (31 of 68) from the field and capitalized on a balanced attack with three players in double figures.
“You can look at us and say we didn’t do this and didn’t do that, but I think tonight was a night where they had a lot do with that,” UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. “They guarded Greg hard and didn’t make anything easy for him. We weren’t very well-prepared to take advantage of that.
“We had to have other guys step up and make shots, but we could never get a run going.”
It was tough from the start for the Oilers, who are now a half-game behind the Cavs in the GLIAC South Division and in a five-way tie for second in the overall standings.
Jesse Hardin nailed a trey to start the game for WU, and two more 3-pointers followed from Brad DuPont and Hardin as the Cavs opened up a 15-6 lead six minutes into the game.
The Oilers did respond. Jake Heagen, who lit up the scoreboard for 17 points, nailed a trey that cut the Cavs’ lead to 15-9. Kahlig hit a jumper and Sean Samsel launched up a shot from well beyond the arc that swished through and sliced the Cavs’ lead to 17-14 with 11:10 left in the first half.
Heagen tied the game at 23-23 with a jumper and Quaran Jones provided a spark off the bench as he tipped in a missed shot for a 25-23 UF lead. The Oiler trailed 37-34 at halftime.
The Oilers fell behind further to start the second half. Back-to-back layups by Davonte Beard got the Cavs started and a 3-pointer by Hardin capped a 9-0 run that pushed WU in front 46-34.
“I didn’t feel like we came out of the locker room with a sense of urgency,” Ernst said. “Sometimes, when you cut a lead to three, you relax a bit. We might have been better off being down eight or nine. We thought we were OK when we cut the lead to three. We weren’t OK.”
Kahlig won’t argue with that.
“They came out and took it to us after halftime,” Kahlig said. “We usually play really well at home, but they outplayed us tonight.”
Shots from the outside seemed to rim in and out often and layups were too strong. Kahlig did cut the WU lead to 53-44 as he nailed his only 3-pointer of the night, but the Oilers were unable to get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Chall Montgomery helped put the game away as he scored 17 for the Cavs. Hrvoje Vucic scored 16 points to go with eight rebounds, and Hardin added 16 points.
Hardin ignited a wave of boos from the crowd when he scored on a layup with seven seconds left rather than let the clock run out. Heagen’s long 3-pointer at the buzzer accounted for UF’s final points of the game.
Dylan Kaufman was the only other player in double figures for UF, scoring 11 points to go with six rebounds.
Ernst said he thought his team competed hard the entire way, but one of the biggest roadblocks to a comeback was the lack of energy to rally late in the game.
“Because they had the lead, they could play their bench more and we had to stick with our starters for longer periods of time,” Ernst said. “We didn’t have the energy and legs to make a run. Maybe if we sub sooner, we can, but it’s tough to pull the trigger when you are losing control of the game.”
UF has no time to dwell on the loss. It travels Saturday to Canton for a 3 p.m. game against Malone (9-8, 7-6 GLIAC).
“We can’t let this loss affect us going into Saturday,” Kahlig said. “We have to bring the intensity and after it because we are playing another tough opponent.”
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