Local Sports from The Courier
Monday, March 18, 2013College basketball: Drury ousts Oilers from NCAA Tournament
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Just as making the NCAA tournament can serve as one of the greatest thrills, the agony that comes with losing in it can be one of the worst pains.
As University of Findlay seniors Aaron Robinson and Brad Piehl sat in the postgame press conference Saturday night after a painful 89-77 loss to top-seeded Drury University in the opening round of the Division II Midwest Regional, the hurt was visible.
Yet, in the end, on a night when a solid effort wasn't enough for the eighth-seeded Oilers in the hostile environment of the O'Reilly Family Event Center, the two seniors reflected on the good of the season.
"It's been a lot of fun. We've been like a family and I made a great choice to come here," said Robinson, who poured in 13 points and has been a defensive leader all season. "I've grown as a player and as a person, and I'm going to miss it a lot."
Piehl echoed those thoughts. He scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, including a layup that tied the score at 39-39 at halftime, providing the Oilers with a shot of confidence after they had fallen behind 19-9.
"As a school and a community, it doesn't get any better than Findlay. That is my opinion," Piehl said. "Everyone is so helpful and I've enjoyed my time playing in this program. It's a great place and the guys coming back next year will have a lot of motivation."
This season almost didn't end Saturday night in Missouri.
After a rugged start, the No. 22 Oilers (22-8) settled in defensively, forcing the Panthers to work harder for shots, and at the same time, they started clicking offensively.
Dylan Kaufman and Robinson knocked down back-to-back treys to slice the Drury lead to 19-15. A trey from up top by Greg Kahlig, who paced the Oilers with 20 points, tied the game 27-27 and the rest of the half was tightly played.
Robinson's 3-pointer gave Findlay a 37-36 lead with less than two minutes to go and Piehl tied the game at the break.
Findlay head coach Charlie Ernst was proud of the way his team responded.
"Our team has been through a lot this season and have been successful in some tough environments," Ernst said. "We began to run our offense better, making them guard us more, and where we really matured as a team was that we waited for good shots."
The Oilers made 11 3-pointers and shot 45.6 percent (26 of 57) from the field. The No. 7 Panthers (26-4), though, torched the nets at a 67.4 percent (31 of 46) clip as they won their 18th consecutive game.
Drury used a 9-0 run late in the second half to pull away for good after Kahlig closed the gap to 70-66 with 6:20 to go. Teddy Simniok scored three times inside and Kameron Bundy made a clutch 3-pointer that extended Drury's lead to 79-66 with 3:10 to play.
"Both teams really got after it," Drury head coach Steve Hesser said. "They played hard and they played well, but we made some plays and got some stops when we needed them and we were able to take advantage of some situations."
The Panthers made themselves tough to defend with five players reaching double figures. Brandon Lockhart scored 21 points while Alex Hall, Drury's leading scorer (19.6 ppg) pumped in 17, Ian Carter 15, Simniok 14 and Cameron Adams 12.
"Tonight, we ran into a very good team," Ernst said. "Sometimes teams play better defense on a short notice, but maybe we had too much time to prepare for how to guard them and out-thunk ourselves. Give them credit. They are a team where the players understand their roles."
There were moments where it seemed like Findlay was going to rip the momentum away from the Panthers, courtesy of Jake Heagen, who finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Twice in the second half, the athletic sophomore soared into the lane to throw down dunks off missed shots, the second time flying in from near the free-throw line as he jammed the ball through.
That dunk cut the Drury lead to 59-57, but the Oilers could never get the lead back despite getting several good looks at the basket.
Kahlig said he takes part of the blame for not being able to deliver in big moments.
"I credit my teammates for getting me the shots I did make, but there are a few shots I wish I had back," Kahlig said. "I feel like I let the seniors down a little bit because those are guys I have so much respect for. It's definitely going to make me work even harder next year."
Kahlig's final 3-pointer of the night, got the Oilers within 70-66 but Findlay made only two more field goals the rest of the way as their season came to a close.
This was their 11th appearance in the NCAA tournament and it came during a 12th consecutive 20-win season.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't get some shots to fall late and we had some defensive miscues," Kahlig said. "This is a tough place to play and it's hard to lose. But I thought we played hard the entire time."
Baity 1-1 0-1 2, Robinson 4-8 1-2 13, Heagen 4-11 0-0 8, Kahlig 5-14 7-8 20, Piehl 5-8 6-7 16, Samsel 1-4 0-0 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 4-6 0-0 9, Kaufman 2-4 0-0 6, Frilling 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 26-57 14-18--77.
Patterson 1-2 2-2 4, Lockhart 8-11 4-7 21, Carter 5-6 5-6 15, Simniok 6-8 2-2 14, Hall 4-9 8-11 17, Bundy 1-3 0-0 3, Boga 1-1 0-0 3, Adams 5-6 2-2 12. TOTALS: 31-46 23-30--89.
HALFTIME: Tied, 39-39.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 11-31 (Robinson 4-7, Kahlig 3-10, Kaufman 2-3, Smith 1-3, Samsel 1-4, Heagen 0-3); Drury 4-12 (Boga 1-1, Lockhart 1-2, Bundy 1-2, Hall 1-4, Patterso 0-1, Simniok 0-2).
rebounds: Findlay 22 (Piehl 7, Heagen 5); Drury 28 (Adams 7, Lockhart 6). ASSISTS: Findlay 15 (Heagen & Samsel 3); Drury 18 (Lockhart 6). STEALS: Findlay 8 (Kahlig 2); Drury 6 (Lockhart 3). BLOCKS: Findlay 3, Drury 2.
TURNOVERS: Findlay 15, Drury 15. TOTAL FOULS: Fnidlay 23, Drury 17. FOULED OUT: Drury, Carter.
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