A Magical Season To Remember
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.
During the first round of the GLIAC Tournament, the Oilers defeated Northwood University 81-52 on March 3, 2009 behind 26 points from senior forward Josh Bostic.
As a team, the Oilers shot 57.7 percent (30-of-52) from the floor and hit 10-of-18 (55.6%) of their three point tries. They also out-rebounded Northwood 35-23 and forced them into 16 turnovers during the win.
Junior guard Marcus Parker chipped in 18 points while senior forward Morgan Lewis recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Nathan Hyde rounded out the other Findlay players in double figures with 12.
Before the semifinals were to begin, Bostic and head coach Ron Niekamp were honored by the GLIAC and selected as the player and coach of the year respectively. For Niekamp, it was the fifth time he had received the prestigious honor.
In addition, Lewis and Parker were named first team all-conference while Bostic and senior center Lee Roberts earned spots on the all-defensive team.
On March 6, 2009, the Oilers advanced to the tournament championship game with a 64-46 victory against Michigan Technological University.
Bostic came out on fire and scored 18 of the Oilers first 20 points en route to a 27 point, six rebound and three steal effort.
Roberts added ten points and eight boards while Hyde scored ten points as well.
As a team, Findlay shot 43.1 percent (22-of-51) from the floor and held the Huskies to a mere 33.3 percent (17-of-51) shooting clip in the win.
In the championship game, Findlay drew Grand Valley State University which had proved to be the Oilers biggest threat throughout the conference season. The finals lived up to the hype as both teams played rugged defense but the Oilers came out on top by score of 67-56 on March 7, 2009.
The contest was a tale of two halves as Findlay struggled in the opening period by shooting only 29.0 percent (9-of-31) from the floor. In comparison, the Lakers hit 48.0 (12-of-25) of their attempts but found themselves up only three points at 27-24 when the first half buzzer sounded.
The second half was dominated by the Oilers defense as they made life miserable for Grand Valley State.
Lewis got things started when he tied the game at 27-27 just 20 seconds into the final period on an old fashioned three point play.
Lewis would then give Findlay a 33-32 lead with 16:31 to play on a lay-up before Parker made the score 35-32 only 14 seconds later.
After a lay-up by the Lakers Toreau Brown, Lewis would cram home a dunk at the 15:24 mark to make the score 37-34 before senior guard Aaron Laflin canned the Oilers first three pointer of the game, giving Findlay a 40-34 advantage with 13:20 showing on the clock.
Laflin's three was followed by another one from Bostic and senior guard Tyler Evans moments later after Justin Ringler converted a three point play for the Lakers.
Leading 46-37 with 11:42 left, Laflin canned a jumper and then split a pair of free throws before Parker drained a triple to give Findlay a 52-37 advantage with 7:09 remaining in the game.
Leading by 15, Lewis split a pair of free throws before Parker and Hyde made a pair from the charity stripe to give the Oilers a 57-39 advantage with 5:59 to play.
The 12-0 run by Findlay broke the Lakers will as they held them scoreless for almost seven straight minutes.
Grand Valley State mounted a mini comeback at the end to tighten the gap but it wasn't enough as the Oilers tied a school record with their 30th victory of the season.
As a team, Findlay shot 38.6 percent (22-of-57) from the floor but made 19-of-25 (76.0%) of their free throw attempts compared to a 7-of-9 (77.8%) showing from Grand Valley State.
The Oilers also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and forced the Lakers into 20 turnovers during the win.
Lewis recorded 15 points, ten rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to earn all-tournament honors while Parker chipped in 15 points and four boards as an all-tournament selection as well.
Roberts added 10 points and four boards while Bostic recorded nine points and five rebounds en route to being selected the 2009 GLIAC Tournament MVP.
For the tournament, the All-American from Columbus, Ohio averaged 20.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
After securing the GLIAC Tournament championship, the Oilers were selected as the top seed in the Midwest Regional Tournament which meant the first three rounds of the NCAA Division II Tournament would be held in the friendly confines of Croy Gymnasium.
Before the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament, Bostic and Niekamp were selected as the player and coach of the year respectively. Bostic was also tabbed a first team all-region selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Croy Gymnasium was packed and ready on March 14, 2009 for the Oilers first round game against the Lakers of Grand Valley State University.
Another defensive struggle, Findlay prevailed with a 66-51 victory behind 20 points from Bostic.
Lewis and Hyde added 14 and 13 points respectively in the game.
In the second round, Findlay went up against a talented squad from the University of Southern Indiana on March 15, 2009.
The top ranked Oilers shot 57.8 percent (26-of-45) from the field and also hit 9-of-18 (50%) three point tries in an 81-59 win over the Screaming Eagles.
Southern Indiana meanwhile connected on 44.2 percent (23-of-52) of their field goal attempts but hit only 6-of-8 (75%) of their free throw tries compared to a 20-of-27 (74.1%) showing at the charity stripe by Findlay.
Bostic led the Oilers with 25 points and five rebounds while Hyde connected on five triples en route to 18 points.
Parker added 16 points and seven assists while Roberts had seven points and ten boards.
The win over the University of Southern Indiana gave the Oilers their second straight appearance in the Sweet 16 and a chance to reach the Elite 8 for only the second time in school history. They would face 18th ranked Bellarmine University in the finals of the Midwest Regional Tournament, a game which would go down in history as one of the best ever in Croy Gymnasium.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 marked one of the best games in Oilers history as Findlay defeated the Knights 89-86 in front of an unbelievable atmosphere in Croy Gymnasium.
The game was nip and tuck throughout as there were 11 ties and ten lead changes during the thriller which gave the Oilers a 33-0 record on the season.
Both teams battled back and forth during the first half eventually settling in at 38-38 when the buzzer sounded.
In the second half, the Knights went up as many as six points at 56-50 with 11:28 showing on the clock but Bostic cut the lead to two with a pair of free throws and a lay-up.
After a Nick Holmes basketball for Bellarmine, Evans drilled a long three pointer from the corner to make the score 58-57 with 8:12 to play.
A couple of baskets by Bellarmine then stretched their lead to five but Evans once again connected on a triple which was followed by a tough jumper from Hyde to tie the game at 63-63 with 5:34 remaining.
A jumper by Justin Benedetti on the ensuing possession gave the Knights the lead back but Hyde then stuck a three pointer to give Findlay a one point advantage at 66-65 with 4:22 left.
Bellarmine's Chartrael Hall then hit a pair from the charity stripe which was followed by a three point play from Bostic giving the Oilers a 69-67 advantage but Bennedetti tied it once again with two free throws.
Both teams then traded free throws before Benedetti connected on a jumper to make the score 73-71 with only 55 ticks left.
Needing a bucket, Lewis scored inside to tie the game at 73 all before Holmes scored again to give Bellarmine a 75-73 lead with 27 seconds to play in the contest.
Trailing by two, Bostic once again hit a big shot, this time a deep triple to give the Oilers a 76-75 lead with only 12 seconds remaining but Hall was fouled on the ensuing possession with only six ticks remaining.
Hall missed the first shot from the line and tied the game with his second. A running jumper by Parker then did not fall as the game was sent into overtime.
Leading 80-79 with 3:06 remaining in the extra session, Bostic drilled a three pointer before Holmes scored inside for the Knights to cut the Oilers lead to two at 83-81 with 2:01 to play.
At the 1:30 mark, Bostic drained a jumper which was followed by a triple from the Knights Andrew Patterson making the score 85-84 with just over a minute left in the overtime period.
A steal by Parker then sent Evans to the line where he connected on both attempts to push the Findlay lead to three at 87-84 with only 13 ticks left.
Benedetti then apparently tied the game with a triple but it was overruled making the score 87-86 with three seconds to play.
Hyde then swished both free throw attempts after a Bellarmine foul to give Findlay an 89-86 win.
Bostic put on quite the performance as he racked up 37 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. The All-American who was named the tournament MVP, drilled 4-of-6 three pointers and all 11 of his attempts from the line to go along with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
15 of Bostic's points came within the last 3:46 of regulation and the five minute overtime period.
For the tournament, the 2009 GLIAC and Midwest Region Player of the Year averaged 27.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while hitting 31-of-32 (96.9%) of his free throw attempts.
Evans added a season-high 14 points which included a 4-of-5 showing from three point land while Hyde scored 11.
Lewis scored six points to go along with a career-high 13 boards while Parker and Roberts added nine and eight points respectively.
Parker and Hyde were also selected to the all-tournament team and were joined by Bellarmine's Benedetti and Hall on the squad.
As a team, the Oilers shot 53.7 percent (29-of-54) from the floor which included an 11-of-21 (52.4%) showing from the three point line.
The Knights meanwhile scorched the nets at 57.4 percent (31-of-54).
Before the Oilers first game of the Elite 8, Bostic again picked up some more hardware as he was voted the 2009 State Farm NCAA Division II National Player of the Year. The award marked the first time an Oilers player had ever received the highest honor for a men's basketball player.
Riding high after the win over Bellarmine University, the Oilers had another tough game in front of them as they were scheduled to face-off against undefeated and second ranked Long Island University – C.W. Post in the first round of the Elite 8.
On March 25, 2009, the Oilers and Pioneers put on quite a show at the Elite 8 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Both teams battled back and forth with the Oilers eventually coming out on top by a score of 89-79 in an overtime thriller.
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.
Bostic scored the first points of the second half to get the Oilers rolling and after a three by Parker and a dunk by Roberts, Bostic canned a jumper to tie the game at 48-48 with 16:10 to play in the second period.
Both teams would then trade leads back and forth until Roberto Macklin connected on a lay-up to put the Pioneers in front by a score of 67-62 with 8:35 showing on the clock.
Needing a basket, Evans stepped up and drilled a triple but Post answered with another basket from Macklin which was followed by a jumper from Lewis.
Down by two at 69-67 with 7:01 left, 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.
In overtime, Roberts picked up where he left off by scoring the opening bucket which was followed by a lay-up from the Pioneers Kenny Burkes. Evans then made a pair from the charity stripe before Lewis scored in the paint to give Findlay an 83-79 lead with 2:26 left in the overtime period.
Up by four, Lewis scored on a tip-in before Laflin split a pair of free throws to make the score 86-79. Bostic then hit two free throws and Evans made one in the final 42 seconds to seal the victory for Findlay.
As a team, the Oilers shot 54.1 percent (33-of-61) from the floor and hit 9-of-24 (37.5%) three point tries. In comparison, the Pioneers were 31-of-68 (45.6%) from the field which included a 14-of-37 (37.8%) showing from behind the three point line.
Roberts led the team with a career-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He also added seven rebounds in the win which improved the Oilers record to 34-0 on the season.
Parker added 19 points, five rebounds and five assists while Bostic racked up 18 points and eight boards.
Evans came off the bench to score 12 points with four assists, three steals and two rebounds in 30 minutes of action while Lewis chipped in 11 points and four boards.
The win over the Pioneers sent Findlay to the Final 4, the furthest any Oilers team has ever got in a national tournament.
On March 26, 2009, the Oilers played the University of Central Missouri in the Final 4 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. The game was another nail-biter as Findlay came out victorious by a score of 67-65.
The Oilers trailed the majority of the first half as they committed seven turnovers and gave up seven offensive rebounds to the sixth ranked Mules. Still, Findlay was able to enter the break down only five points at 32-27.
In the second half, the Oilers fought their way back to a tie at 35-35 but remained cold from the field as the Mules heated up. Still, Findlay hung in there as Evans and Laflin hit three's to keep the game close before Evans gave the Oilers a 54-53 lead on a running jumper with just over seven minutes to play in the game.
A jumper by the Mules' Sanijay Watts and a free throw by De'Andre Byrd put Central Missouri up 56-54 with 5:55 to play but Bostic hit a jumper in the lane to tie the game at 56 apiece on the ensuing possession.
Bostic then gave Findlay a 58-56 advantage with 5:01 left before Central Missouri's Joe Young hit a couple of free throws to tie the game at 58-58.
Tied for the sixth time, Lewis connected on a lay-up and Roberts drained a few free throws to give the Oilers a 62-58 lead with only 3:27 left in the contest.
The Mules then got a three point play by Watts to trim the Findlay lead to one and took the lead at 65-62 after a jumper by Watts and a tip-in by Young.
Trailing 65-62 with 1:39 showing on the clock, Bostic split a pair at the charity stripe. Findlay's defense then held strong and the Oilers offense got a spark when Parker connected on a triple from deep in the corner to give the Oilers a 66-65 lead with only 43 ticks left.
Leading by one, Hyde split a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining and Bostic missed two from the line with just over one second to play giving the Mules and opportunity to win the game. A desperation heave as the buzzer sounded missed everything however as the Oilers claimed the victory and improved to 35-0 on the year.
As a team, Findlay shot 45.1 percent (23-of-51) from the floor and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds in the game.
Bostic led the way with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block while Lewis recorded 16 points and 11 boards.
Evans came off the bench to score eight points while Roberts had six points and eight rebounds.
March 28, 2009 marked a day of destiny for the Oilers and their program. They had been ranked first in the nation from the beginning of the season 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.
With the score tied at 42-42, the Oilers headed into overtime for the third time in four games and got off to a good start when Lewis connected on a jumper in the lane.
Leading 44-42, Larry Gordon tied the game for Pomona but Bostic answered with a lay-up of his own before picking up his fifth foul of the game.
After a few lead changes, Pomona jumped out to a 51-48 lead with 2:01 remaining when Gordon scored four straight points. The Oilers were not out of it however as Parker weaved his way into the paint and scored to make the score 51-50 with 1:33 left.
Trailing by one, Parker again converted in the lane while being fouled but missed the ensuing free throw to put Findlay up 53-51 with only 24 seconds showing on the clock.
Up by two, Gordon splashed a jumper with 13 ticks remaining to tie the game but the Oilers raced the other way and got a good luck from Parker who missed. Roberts then collected the offensive rebound and time was called with just over two seconds remaining in the game.
Tied at 53-53, the Oilers ran an inbounds play for Evans who dribbled to the 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.
As a team, the Oilers really struggled to score offensively as they hit on only 34.5 percent (20-of-58) of their field goal attempts. Findlay also struggled from the three point line, hitting only 22.7 percent (5-of-22) of their shots, but pounded the offensive glass for 14 boards to get extra chances.
Bostic led the way with 13 points and six rebounds as he was named the MVP of the tournament.
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.
Parker and Hyde each scored eight points while Evans, the hero of the day, scored four.
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 Findlay basketball.