By BRIAN LESTER
PAINESVILLE — Special performances only come around every so often in college basketball. They are like shooting stars, and if you are lucky enough, you get to witness them.
We saw one here Saturday afternoon at the Osborne Center as Greg Kahlig, the senior preseason All-American forward for the University of Findlay men’s basketball team, turned in a jaw-dropping performance against Lake Erie College.
He scored 40. Yes, 40. And more importantly, the Oilers survived a hard-fought battle with the Storm to win 79-69 and keep their quest alive to win the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division championship.
It was the one of the greatest individual performances I’ve seen in my 10-plus years of covering the Oilers.
Kahlig was, as I call it, money in the moment on Saturday as he became only the eighth Oiler to score 40 or more in a game. He is the first to do it since Kyle Hunt scored 42 against Benedictine (Kan.) 14 years ago.
When the Oilers needed a big shot Lake Erie, he delivered. His biggest 3-pointer, of course, was the one he knocked down from up top with 1:32 on the clock and UF clinging to a one-point lead.
He hit the shot as if it was no big deal, shooting the ball with the kind of confidence very few players shoot with. He embraces the pressure and relishes the chance to thrive when it matters most.
And he’s been doing it for quite some time.
¨Ever since I was younger, I’ve always wanted the ball in my hands to hit those shots,” Kahlig said.”It’s good when they go in, and not so good when they don’t. Fortunately, they went in again today.¨
Kahlig told his teammates during timeouts that he was feeling it. He was confident that if his teammates trusted him, he would get the job done.
¨Greg was telling his teammates in the huddle during timeouts that he was feeling it and to give him the ball,” UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. ¨He is such a tough matchup for teams.
The thing about Kahlig is he knows how much his teammates have meant to his success, on Saturday, and throughout his career. He never does an interview without giving his teammates credit.
¨I have a lot of confidence and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me to take those shots,” Kahlig said. ¨The shot clock was winding down on that 3-pointer (with 1:32 left) and I knew we needed a shot. Fortunately, it went in.¨
What impresses me about the effort Kahlig put forth on Saturday is that he did it on the road. That isn’t easy. Travel can take its toll on a player, especially two nights after playing another road game against rival Ashland, and yet, Kahlig looked like he was right at home inside the Osborne Center.
The other thing about the 40-point game is that the Oilers needed this win. A lot was riding on this game in terms of the division title race, the overall GLIAC championship race and the NCAA Division II Regional rankings, which will be released Wednesday.
The Oilers could not afford to stumble.
¨We need every game from here on out, and I really liked our will to win today,” Kahlig said. ¨Lake Erie made it difficult on us, but we stuck with it and found a way to pull it out.¨
That the Oilers did, and to do it on a day when Kahlig further cemented his status as one of the best to wear the orange and black of UF, made the win all the more special.
Follow me on Twitter: @BLester1993