Louisville, KY – For the first time since a perfect 36-0 season in 2009, the University of Findlay men's basketball team, ranked 25th in the country, is back in the Sweet 16 after earning a 68-63 win over the 14th ranked and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) champion Ferris State Bulldogs. With the March 12 win, Findlay extends their record to 25-6, the 11th time in the storied program's history that they have reached the 25-win plateau and the first time with Charlie Ernst at the helm.
Findlay, which went on the road to defeat Ferris St. in overtime back on December 4, got all they could handle from the Bulldogs in their second matchup of the season. Early in the contest, the Oilers and Bulldogs shot the ball well, but costly turnovers led to first half success for Ferris St.
With 6:30 to play in the opening half, Bulldogs' guard D'Angelo Hughes knocked in a triple to give Ferris a ten-point lead, what would be their largest of the game.
Findlay answered back with a 12-0 run powered by the two players from Lima, OH, Martyce Kimbrough and Taren Sullivan. On that run, Kimbrough scored five points and Sullivan had seven. But the Bulldogs closed the half with a buzzer beating layup from GLIAC Player of the Year, Zach Hankins to take a 40-39 lead at the break.
In that first half, Findlay turned the ball over seven times and made just one of six from the charity stripe while Ferris St. only committed a pair of turnovers and made all three of their free throw attempts. Both teams combined to shoot 47% from the floor in the opening frame.
The second half was a grind-it-out, back-and-forth affair as neither team would lead by more than four points for the first seven minutes of action. But, the Oilers found their rhythm late and with 3:25 left, Sullivan hit a jumper that put the Orange and Black up by nine points at 64-55, their largest lead of the game. The Bulldogs hit three of their final four shots after that basket from Sullivan, but Findlay was able to milk the clock and shoot free throws down the stretch to secure their place in the regional final.
Junior Taren Sullivan led the way for Findlay with another stat-stuffing performance. He scored 22 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Sullivan also dished out two assists, had three steals, and added a pair of blocks. He was joined in scoring by fellow junior Martyce Kimbrough who scored 21 points on 9-of-20 shooting after shooting just 3-of-17 the night before. Kimbrough also added a career-high six rebounds in the victory.
Senior Tyler Stern-Tucker was a key component to the Oilers sticking with the Bulldogs in the first half of play. Stern-Tucker finished with 13 points, eight of which came in the first frame on the strength of two big three point shots, and grabbed six rebounds while fellow senior Ricardo Smith would finish the game with seven boards from the guard position.
Freshman Aaron Overhiser came off the bench and played 13 quality minutes, scoring seven points on three-of-four shooting. He nabbed five rebounds.
As a team, the Oilers made 27-of-60 (45%) from the floor including 7-of-21 (33%) from beyond the arc while the Bulldogs made 26-of-66 (39.4%) from the field and made 7-of-27 (25.9%) from deep. Findlay held a 41-36 advantage on the glass.
The Oilers will now play #2 Bellarmine on Tuesday, March 14 in Louisville, Ky. That game will be played at 7:00 pm. Fans who purchased tickets to the Oilers game against Ferris State will have the right to reserve their seat for Sunday's game. Bellarmine will hold the same pass list they did for Sunday's contest. If any additional fans are interested in making the trip, please reach out to the UF athletic office at 419-434-4663 to check for availability.