By BRIAN LESTER
Kelsey Lewis turned in the most impressive performance of her career Saturday afternoon, and yet, the University of Findlay sophomore forward was as modest as could be about it.
She had just carved up Tiffin for a career-high 20 points, hitting all eight of her shots from the field, and the effort was more than enough to help the Oilers roll to an 81-59 win over the Dragons at Croy Gymnasium.
But all that mattered to Lewis was that the Oilers won, snapping a three-game losing streak, and breathing a bit of life into their hopes of reaching the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
“I care more about how the team does,” Lewis said. “We wanted to win today and I thought we played really well as a team. It was great to get the win.”
While Lewis wouldn’t bask in the spotlight she owned on this day, UF head coach Jim Wiedie was more than happy to play up the performance by Lewis, whose previous career-high was 10 points.
“I don’t know what Kelsey did last night to get ready for this game, but I told her whatever it was, just keep doing it,” Wiedie said. “She has been playing so well and what a way for her to step up. She had a big game. It’s a huge confidence booster for her.”
Lewis only scored six points in the first half, helping stake UF (10-11, 7-10 GLIAC) to a 36-30 advantage, but she established herself in the paint in the second half and the Dragons struggled to stop her.
Lewis scored on a layup that put UF up 51-38 and her layup with 11:05 remaining put the Oilers in front 59-45.
A jumper by Lewis pushed the UF lead to 63-47 and a strong move to the basket with 7:38 left put the Oilers up 67-49 over the Dragons (7-13, 4-12).
“The team did a great job of finding me open,” Lewis said. “We did a good job of moving the ball around today and were able to make shots.”
UF, which has struggled with consistency, shot 51.6 percent (32 of 62) from the field and Karli Beasley also reached double figures with 12 points.
Beasley hit two treys and also grabbed four rebounds.
Margaret Wuebker and Karli Bonar scored eight points apiece.
The Oilers also stepped up on defense, forcing 25 turnovers and scoring 22 points off those miscues while holding the Dragons to 38.3 percent (18 of 47) shooting from the field.
Jillian Adams led TU with 11 points.
“It’s the most complete game we played all year,” Wiedie said. “This was the team I expected since day one. We performed well offensively and defensively, and our energy level was good. We were consistent the whole game.”
It was tight early, but once Lacey Kessler drove in for a layup and hit a free throw to put the Oilers in front 7-5, UF never trailed again.
A layup by Beasley extended the lead to double digits at 18-8 with 9:41 left and the Oilers led 21-10 after a trey by Bonar.
The Dragons battled back and cut the lead to 21-20 on a layup and free throw by Katie Miller with 6:43 to go, but unlike past games, the Oilers didn’t fold.
UF played with the same intensity in the second half and built on their lead as they earned a much-needed win.
“I’m always worried when we come out of halftime, but this time, we increased our lead,” Wiedie said. “I just think the energy and the focus defensively was the big difference.”
The Oilers will seek to avenge an earlier loss on Thursday when they take on rival and defending NCAA Division II national champion Ashland (13-8, 11-6) at 5:30 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles beat the Oilers 80-55 last month at Croy.
“I really hope this is a game we can build on and understand how good we can be when we play like we did today,” Wiedie said. “We have a chance to do something if we keep playing this way.”
tiffin (7-13, 4-12 GLIAC)
Adams 2-6 7-9 11, Nauman 1-3 2-2 5, McKay 1-3 0-0 2, Mast 4-8 0-0 10, Fraley 1-6 2-2 4, Storlie 1-2 0-1 3, Miller 1-3 2-3 4, Misko 2-2 3-4 7, Patton 2-7 0-0 5, Farr 3-5 2-2 8, Byrd 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18-47 18-23–59.
findlay (10-11, 7-10 gliac)
Wuebker 4-8 0-1 8, Beasley 5-10 0-0 12, Gunning 2-3 0-0 5, Geiger 6-12 1-2 16, Bonar 3-11 2-10 8, Andrews 1-5 0-0 0, Klausing 1-2 2-2 4, Kessler 2-3 1-1 5, Lewis 8-8 4-5 20, Grevenkamp 0-0 0-0 0, Kenny 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 32-62 8-11 81.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 36-30.
3-Point GOALS: Tiffin 5-13 (Mast 2-4, Nauman 1-1, Storlie 1-1, Patton 1-4, Miller 0-1, Fraley 0-2); Findlay 9-27 (Geiger 3-6, Beasley 2-5, Bonar 2-10, Gunning 1-2, Andrews 1-3, Kessler 0-1).
rebounds: Tiffin 30 (Misko 6); Findlay 33 (Geiger 9).
ASSISTS: Tiffin 9 (McKay 3); Findlay 23 (Andrews, Klausing & Kessler 4).
STEALS: Tiffin 7, Findlay 15.
BLOCKS: Tiffin 0, Findlay 3.
TURNOVERS: Tiffin 25, Findlay 18.
TOTAL FOULS: Tiffin 14, Findlay 21.
FOULED OUT: None.
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