Local Sports from The Courier
Friday, November 30, 2012College basketball: Oilers' pressure drains Lake Superior St.
The ball was loose on the floor and no one could get a grip on it near the free-throw line. That is until Jack Smith managed to get his hands on the ball and come through with a big play for the University of Findlay men's basketball team in its 85-63 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win Thursday against Lake Superior State.
At the time, the Lakers trailed by only 10 and their hopes for a victory still had a heartbeat against the No. 16 Oilers.
Smith ended that hope quickly as he cut into the lane, scooped up the ball and threw it down for a dunk that energized the crowd of 717.
UF (3-1, 1-0 GLIAC) led 48-36 after the jam and closed the game on a wave of momentum en route to drilling the Lakers (2-2, 0-1) at Croy Gymnasium.
"I just tried to make a second effort on the play," Smith said. "I saw an opening, saw the ball and went for it. I was able to get it and get the dunk."
It was one of several big plays Smith made on the night as he thrived in his role as the latest in a long line of veteran sixth men for the Oilers.
The senior forward poured in 19 points, tying a career-high, while grabbing four rebounds, dishing out two assists and coming up with one steal.
Smith was particularly key early in the game when he came off the bench in a tight battle and fueled a momentum-swinging 9-0 run with three consecutive baskets.
He sliced into the lane for an acrobatic layup, drilled a jumper and hit two free throws as the Oilers surged in front 21-13 with 9:31 to go in the opening half. UF went into halftime with a 36-26 lead after Aaron Robinson rose above the defense and tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer.
Thriving in a backup role isn't for everyone, but for Smith, who also has experience as a starter, it's a role that he has embraced.
"It takes a lot of focus, but I've tried to play my role as best as possible and play as hard as I can to help my teammates," Smith said. "When I come in, I do what I can to pick us up and provide energy."
Smith had only 17 points coming into this tilt, but against the Lakers, he was feeling his shot, connecting on 8 of his 11 attempts. He also drilled both of his free throws and his 3-pointer with 7:14 to play pushed the Oilers in front 64-46.
"Jack has been struggling lately, but we all know he is a good player," UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. "When he is playing well, it helps us in a lot of areas. It gives us versatility in our lineup. I thought this was good confidence game for him. He played aggressive and was a key to our success against their zone."
That LSSU zone was ripped apart in the second half as the Oilers shot 57.1 percent from the field and nailed six of their 10 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes of play.
UF also attacked inside as well and a total of four players finished in double figures. Greg Kahlig scored 15 points while Brad Piehl took advantage of shot opportunities in the paint and scored 12. Robinson finished with 10 points on a night when the Oilers shot 50 percent (31 of 62) from the field.
UF's offensive success was fueled by the fact that it made the Lakers work hard on defense. The Oilers racked up 20 assists and never hesitated to pass up a good shot for a better shot.
"Once one person started hitting, other players hit shots, too," Kahlig said. "Everyone got involved. We have unselfish players and we were able to make the extra pass. It wore them down."
UF's aggressive defense effort created problems all night for the Lakers, who saw their two-game win streak snapped.
Robinson and Jake Heagen shared duties defending Derek Billing, who came in averaging 18.7 points per outing. Billing was 3-for-12 from the floor and finished with 6 points and four turnovers.
Derek Kinney did what he could to keep the Lakers in the game, scoring 19, and Alex Williams added 14 points.
But the Lakers shot 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from the field and didn't have the depth to keep pace with UF. The Lakers had three players play 30-plus minutes.
"I'm proud of our effort on defense," Ernst said. "We got them frustrated, and we had good matchups on Billing. Aaron, Jake and even Alphonso (Baity) and Sean (Samsel) guarded him. Our play off the bench was big. We were able to wear them down."
The Oilers have held their last three opponents to fewer than 70 points and have hit 10 or more 3-pointers in their last two games.
On the flip side, they were able to defend the perimeter hard enough to limit the Lakers' chances from the outside and they also held a 36-31 edge on the boards.
UF's bench outscored the LSSU bench 25-10 and never let up from an effort standpoint.
This game was the start of a brutal six-game stretch against North Division opponents and the Oilers were challenged early.
They trailed 13-12 after two free throws by Kinney, but Baity drilled a 3-pointer in front of the Lakers' bench and UF never looked back as they started their quest for a conference title on a positive note.
"This was big for us, especially with the schedule we have this month," Smith said. "We needed to get this first one out of the way and now we have to build on it."
Lake Superior STate (2-2)
Metz 1-5 4-4 6, Kinney 8-16 3-5 19, Carroll 3-9 2-2 9, Myrick 2-6 0-0 4, Billing 3-12 0-0 6, Williams 5-5 1-1 14, Daly 2-3 0-0 5, Holt 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 24-57 10-12--63.
Heagen 2-8 0-0 4, Kahlig 4-8 5-7 15, Brad Piehl 4-7 4-4 12, Samsel 2-7 0-0 5, Robinson 4-9 0-1 10, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Baity 2-4 2-2 8, Smith 8-11 2-2 19, Kaufman 2-2 0-0 6, Frilling 3-5 0-0 6. TOTALS: 31-62 13-16--85.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 36-26
3-Point GOALS: Lake Superior 5-15 (Carroll 1-5, Myrick 0-2, Billing 0-4, Williams 3-3, Daly 1-1). Findlay 10-27 (Heagen 0-2, Kahlig 2-4, Piehl 0-1, Samsel 1-6, Robinson 2-5, Baity 2-3, Smith 1-4, Kaufman 2-2).
rebounds: Lake Superior 31 (Kinney 9); Findlay 36 (Kahlig & Frilling 6).
ASSISTS: Lake Superior 8 (Carroll 4); Findlay 20 (Heagen 4).
STEALS: Lake Superior 7 (Carroll & Billing 2); Findlay 9 (Heagen 3).
BLOCKS: Lake Superior 5 (Kinney 2); Findlay 7 (Frilling 3).
TURNOVERS: Lake Superior 16; Findlay 11.
TOTAL FOULS: Lake Superior 18; Findlay 16
FOULED OUT: none.
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