2008-09 NCAA Division II National Champions (36-0)

The Best Season in the History of NCAA DII Men's Basketball

The University of Findlay men's basketball team entered the 2008-09 season as the top ranked team in NCAA Division II basketball. 36 games later, the Oilers remained on top as they were crowned the 2009 NCAA Division II men's basketball champions in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 28.

The Oilers began their road to the championship by winning all 27 of their regular season basketball games en route to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) South Division title. From there, they secured the top seed of the GLIAC Tournament, which was scheduled to take place in Croy Gymnasium.

Findlay easily dispatched Northwood University in the first round by a score of 81-52. They then followed with a 64-46 win against Michigan Technological University before beating Grand Valley State University for the championship by a score of 67-56 behind 15 points, ten rebounds, four steals and three assists from senior forward Morgan Lewis. Senior forward Josh Bostic was named the tournament MVP after averaging 20.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in the three contests.

After winning the conference tournament, the Oilers were selected as the top-seed and host for the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament. They drew Grand Valley State in the first round and came away with a 57-56 win. The Oilers then crushed the University of Southern Indiana to reach the Sweet 16, defeating the 13th-ranked Screaming Eagles by a score of 81-59 to set up a regional final matchup against 18th-ranked Bellarmine University.

In the Sweet 16, the Oilers and Knights played a game which many consider to be the best ever in Croy Gymnasium. The game, which featured 11 ties and ten lead changes, was tied at 38-38 when the first half buzzer sounded and each team followed with 38 more points in the second half to force an extra session.

Leading 87-84 after a couple of free throws by senior guard Tyler Evans with 13 seconds remaining, Bellarmine’s Justin Benedetti drained what appeared to be the game-tying three pointer with only three seconds remaining. The call was overturned however as the referees converged and came to the conclusion that he had a foot on the three point line. Sophomore guard Nathan Hyde then hit two free throws with only two ticks remaining to give Findlay an 89-86 win.

Bostic led the way in the win over the Knights as he scored 37 points on 11-of-16 shooting to go along with four rebounds, four assists and two steals. He was named the Midwest Region MVP for his performance during the tournament after averaging 27.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

The Oilers began the Elite 8 with a game against undefeated and second-ranked Long Island University. Junior guard Marcus Parker got the Oilers off to a hot start by scoring the first eight points of the game to give Findlay an 8-0 advantage at the 18:03 mark of the first half. After a timeout, the Pioneers went wild from three point range as they eventually led by as many 13 points at 43-30 when Kenny Burkes scored down low. Findlay kept chipping away despite a 9-of-18 (50%) showing by C.W. Post from the three point line and eventually cut the lead to eight at 45-37 when Parker drained a triple as the first half buzzer sounded.

Down by two at 69-67 with 7:01 left, senior forward Lee Roberts scored nine straight points for the Oilers to give them a 76-74 advantage with only 45 ticks remaining in regulation. A stop by the Oilers defense and a foul by the Pioneers put Lewis at the line where he split a pair of free throws to make the score 77-74 with 31 ticks left. Kevin Spann quickly changed the score on the ensuing possession however as he hit a long triple to send the game into overtime.

The Oilers took control of the game in overtime and were able to reach the Final 4 for the first time in school history with an 89-79 win behind a career-high 23 points from Roberts.

In the Final 4, the Oilers drew the University of Central Missouri and reached the championship game with a 67-65 victory over the sixth-ranked Mules. Bostic led the way with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block while Lewis recorded 16 points and 11 boards.

March 28, 2009 marked a day of destiny for the Oilers and their program. They had been the top-ranked team in the nation from the beginning of the year and were looking to make history by becoming the first team in NCAA Division II men's basketball to ever go 36-0 in a season. The game was broadcasted live on CBS in front of a national audience and faced the ultimate underdog in the University of California Poly Pomona who had traveled well over 10,000 miles during the tournament to reach the championship game.

Findlay took control of the game and appeared as though they were going to breeze through the contest en route to a national title by going up by as many as 14 points but Pomona had other thoughts. By the end of regulation, the score was tied at 42-42 as both teams played extremely tough defense.

Up by two at 53-51 in overtime, All-American Larry Gordon splashed a jumper with 13 ticks remaining to tie the game. Parker then rushed the ball up the court, but missed a layup opportunity for Findlay. Roberts then collected the offensive rebound and called timeout with just over two seconds remaining. The Oilers then ran an inbounds play for Evans, who dribbled to his left, took a step back, and drained a three pointer at the buzzer to give Findlay a thrilling win and their first national title. The shot by Evans will no doubt be remembered for years to come and it was his only make of the game.

Bostic led the way for the Oilers in the national championship game with 13 points and six rebounds en route to MVP honors. Lewis, who also earned a spot on the all-tournament team, added 12 points and six boards while Roberts chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and three steals.

The celebration of the Oilers win could be heard way back in Findlay as around a 1,000 people gathered to watch the game in Croy Gymnasium. The Oilers returned home on Sunday, March 29 to a standing ovation as hundreds of people gathered to welcome home the national champs in a fitting conclusion to the best season in the history of NCAA Division II men's basketball. Their 36-0 record marked the first time a school had ever won that many games without a loss en route to a national title.

2009 NCAA Division II National Championship Links

2009 Oilers One Shining Moment Video
Tyler Evans Game-Winning Shot Video
Tyler Evans Game-Winning Shot Radio Call
2009 NCAA Division II Postgame Video Recap
Welcome Home Video
Findlay vs. Bellarmine Video Highlights (Best game ever in Croy)
Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech Video
2009 NCAA Division II National Championship Photo Book

2009 NCAA Division II Tournament Box Scores

#1 Findlay 66, Grand Valley State, 51
#1 Findlay 81, #13 Southern Indiana 59
#1 Findlay 89, #18 Bellarmine 86 (OT)
#1 Findlay 89, #2 LIU-C.W. Post 79 (OT)
#1 Findlay, 67, #6 Central Missouri 65
#1 Findlay 53, Cal Poly Pomona 51 (OT)

Awards

Ron Niekamp

2009 NCAA DII National Coach of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Bulletin National Coach of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Basketball Times Coach of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Midwest Region Coach of the Year
2009 GLIAC Coach of the Year

Josh Bostic

2009 NCAA DII National Player of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Bulletin National Player of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Basketball Times Player of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Midwest Region Player of the Year
2009 NCAA DII Elite 8 Most Valuable Player
2009 GLIAC Player of the Year
2009 NCAA DII All-American
2009 NCAA DII Midwest Region Tournament MVP
2009 NCAA DII Midwest Region All-Tournament Team
2009 GLIAC Tournament MVP
2009 GLIAC All-Tournament Team
2009 Hershey’s College All-Star

Charlie Ernst

2009 National Assistant Coach of the Year (Rising Star Award)

Morgan Lewis

2009 1st Team All-GLIAC
2009 Elite 8 All-Tournament Team
2009 GLIAC All-Tournament Team

Marcus Parker

2009 1st Team All-GLIAC
2009 NCAA DII Midwest Region All-Tournament Team
2009 GLIAC All-Tournament Team

Nathan Hyde

2009 NCAA DII Midwest Region All-Tournament Team