Local Sports

Thursday, January 24, 2013

GLIAC Basketball: Findlay to renew old rivalry today at Walsh


No one on the University of Findlay men's basketball team has played against Walsh University, which is in its first season in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference after making the leap from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

The lack of familiarity with the Cavaliers means Findlay head coach Charlie Ernst has added responsibility in terms of preparing the Oilers for today's 6 p.m. GLIAC battle with the Cavs at Alumni Arena in Canton.

"With other teams in our conference, our players have a pretty good idea of what to expect from opponents because they have played them enough," Ernst said. "They can use their past experiences to their advantage. But with Walsh, there is no baseline for the players. As a coaching staff, we have to make sure our players understand what to expect."

The two teams have not met since the 2002-03 season when Findlay posted a 77-71 victory. UF holds a 12-7 edge in the series.

Junior forward Greg Kahlig is confident the Oilers will be ready. Kahlig is coming off a career-high 30-point performance against Lake Erie College on Saturday as the Oilers (11-5, 8-4 GLIAC) snapped a two-game slide with an 83-68 road victory.

The Cavs (11-4, 7-4) have won four straight, including a 95-89 overtime win over Tiffin.

"We have to be ready to play hard on defense and play good team basketball," Kahlig said. "We're coming off a good win on Saturday and hopefully we can build on it."

Walsh has more than held its own in the rugged GLIAC. The Cavs are one game behind Findlay and Hillsdale (8-4 GLIAC) in the South Division and have wins over Grand Valley State (83-79) and Michigan Tech (84-75).

With Findlay in a tight battle for the division title and positioning for the conference tourney, not to mention in a fight to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, a win over the Cavs would be valuable.

"They have good players, they have played well at home and we understand the challenge we have ahead of us," Ernst said. "Walsh reminds me a lot of the way we were as a program when we came into the GLIAC. They have a lot of pride in their program just as we do."

The Cavs are led by senior forward Kenny Kornowski (18.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg). Sophomore guard Rian Burrell (14.2 ppg), freshman guard Jesse Hardin (11.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Davonte Beard (10.3 ppg) give the Cavs four double-figure scorers.

Walsh is averaging 83.3 ppg and holding opponents to 70.1 ppg. The Cavs are shooting 48.6 percent from the field.

"We are going to have to bring everything we have to this game," Kahlig said. "It's going to be important to play hard on defense and make sure we are playing well on offense."

The Oilers struggled offensively during their two-game losing streak, shooting less than 40 percent. But they shot 50 percent from the floor against Lake Erie on Saturday as they attack inside first and then worked for open shots on the perimeter.

Kahlig hit five treys and the Oilers finished 8 of 17 from beyond the arc.

"There are so many different things coaches will try to have his team ready to play on the road, and the most important thing we try to instill in our players is to have confidence," Ernst said.

What Ernst also reminds his players that the Oilers' last three road losses have been by a combined seven points.

Findlay goes into the game averaging 73.2 points per outing and allowing 63.8. The Oilers have held 12 of their last 14 opponents to 70 points or less.

"It's not like we are a long way off as a team," Ernst said. "It's important to keep perspective because we still have a lot on the line and still have a chance to finish this season strong. Right now, our focus is on Walsh."

As for Findlay's women's team, it will head to Canton looking for its sixth win in seven games.

The Oilers (12-4, 9-3) knocked off Lake Erie 79-48 on Saturday and are in second place in the division behind top-ranked Ashland University.

Walsh (6-9, 3-8) has won its last two games, including a 71-65 win over Tiffin. The Cavs are averaging 57.9 ppg and holding opponents to 66.4.

Senior guard Tracy Payne (13.5 ppg, 20 3-pointers, 28 assists, 11 steals) leads the Cavs. Freshman guard Lydia Corle (9.4 ppg) and junior guard/forward Maggie Berry (9.3 ppg) have been key contributors as well for the Cavs.

The Oilers come in averaging 71.4 ppg and allowing 60.

Former Riverdale standout Kayla Brown leads the team in scoring (18.2 ppg). The senior guard/forward also has 31 assists and a team-best 44 steals. Senior forward Tai Dotson (10.4 ppg) is also scoring in double figures,.

"Walsh is a solid team and will be similar to Lake Erie," Findlay head coach Kate Cummings said. "We are looking at this game as another opportunity to get better as a team."

Today's other GLIAC games will see Ashland at Ohio Dominican, No. Michigan at Lake Superior St., Michigan Tech at Northwood, Hillsdale at Malone, Saginaw Valley St. at Grand Valley St., Lake Erie at Tiffin and Wayne St. at Ferris St.

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