The University of Findlay men's basketball team claimed a 54-51 win over #24 Michigan Technological University on Saturday, March 9 to advance to the championship game of the 2013 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament in Houghton, Mich.
The Oilers built a 31-19 lead at the half as they hit 51.9 percent (14-of-27) of their field goal attempts. They then extended their lead to 15 early in the second half before the Huskies made a run. Timely three point baskets and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch then enabled the Oilers to capture the victory.
With the Oilers leading 36-21 with just under 17 minutes remaining in the game, the Huskies went on an 11-2 run to make the score 38-32 with 8:53 left. A three pointer by sophomore forward Jake Heagen then stopped the bleeding, but only momentarily as the Huskies went on a 7-0 run to make the score 41-39 in favor of Findlay with 5:15 remaining.
Up two points, junior forward Greg Kahlig, who had been sitting most of the second half with four fouls, came back into the game and calmly knocked down back-to-back triples to give Findlay a 47-39 advantage with 3:41 showing on the clock. Michigan Tech's Ben Stelzer then scored seven straight points to make the score 47-46 with only 2:45 left.
Clinging to a one-point lead, Kahlig again answered the call with a jumper, but GLIAC Player of the Year Ali Haidar scored on two consecutive layups to give the Huskies a 50-49 lead with just over a minute remaining in the contest.
After working some clock on the offensive end, junior guard Sean Samsel hit his biggest three pointer of the season with only 43 ticks remaining to give Findlay a 52-50 advantage. The Huskies would not go quietly as Haidar went to the free throw line with a chance to tie on the ensuing possession.
After making his first free throw, Haidar was unable to connect on the second. Senior forward Brad Piehl, the Oilers best free throw shooter, then went to the line for Findlay, but his attempt rimmed out as the Huskies secured the defensive rebound. Piehl then made up for the missed free throw by taking a charge with only three seconds left.
Leading by one, the Oilers inbounded the ball to freshman guard Alphonso Baity and he was promptly fouled by the Huskies. After a timeout by each team, Baity calmly swished a pair of shots from the charity stripe and the Huskies were unable to connect on a three point attempt at the buzzer.
Findlay shot 44.9 percent (22-of-49) from the floor while the Huskies connected on 42.9 percent (18-of-42) of their shot attempts. The Oilers also held a slight 30-26 advantage on the boards and held a 12-5 lead in second chance points.
Kahlig led the team with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting while Piehl had 12 points, eight boards and two steals.
Heagen finished with seven points and Baity chipped in six.
Stelzer led Michigan Tech with 20 points while Haidar had 17 points and ten rebounds.
The Oilers will now play in the championship game of the conference tournament for the second consecutive year and look to punch their ticket to the NCAA Division II Tournament in the process. They will play the winner of the Grand Valley State University and Lake Superior State University game at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Houghton, Mich.