Findlay’s offensive firepower was simply too much for the Kentucky Wesleyan College men’s basketball team to overcome Saturday, as the Panthers fell 89-71 in a conference matchup in Findlay, Ohio.
The Oilers shot a blistering 60.7% from the field for the game, including a 10-of-21 mark from 3-point range (47.5%). in winning their eighth straight contest.
The Panthers (6-11, 5-5 in G-MAC) took a 26-24 lead on Erik Bell’s jump shot with 9:07 left in the first half, but Findlay reeled off a 19-2 run over the next five minutes — a stretch that included five made 3-pointers — to help build a 49-38 halftime advantage.
According to Wesleyan coach Drew Cooper, it was another example of his team’s defensive shortcomings.
“We couldn’t stop their scoring all night,” Cooper said. Noting that the Oilers made 8-of-12 shots from distance in the first half. “We’re not getting stops. This isn’t just a revelation today, this has been an ongoing saga for us. We’re trying to find a balance between playing hard and not fouling, and we just don’t have it.
“It wasn’t that Hillsdale shot it good, it wasn’t that Alderson Broaddus shot it good, it wasn’t that Findlay shot it good — it’s that we are not offering any type of resistance, and players are way too comfortable playing against us.”
Ethan Linder scored 17 points to pace Findlay (11-5, 6-1), which also got 12 points from George Chazz and 10 points from Anthony Masterlasco. Tommy Shmock dished a game-best 11 assists for the Oilers, who outrebounded KWC 29-22 and finished with a 14-3 edge in second-chance scoring.
Adam Goetz finished with 14 points to lead the Panthers, while Mohamed Abu Arisha and Stew Currie chipped in 12 points apiece off the bench. Zach Hopewell added 10 points, and Jo Griffin posted a team-high six assists.
“Offensively, everyone knows where they fit,” Cooper said. “I think we’re passing the ball pretty well (20 assists on 28 baskets). Our percentages have been up on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Panthers shot 52.8% from the floor, including 7-of-22 from long range (31.8%), but committed 10 turnovers that helped Findlay claim an 18-7 edge in points off turnovers. The Oilers, meanwhile, committed just five floor errors.
Wyatt Battaile’s 3-pointer cut the Wesleyan lead to 51-44 less than two minutes into the second half, but Findlay responded with a 10-0 run to push the lead to double digits for good.
“There were times in the second half when they just lined us up, dribbled us down, backed us down, walked us down and just scored like there was nobody guarding them,” Cooper added. “... We’ve got to find a defensive identity before it’s too late. There’s enough basketball left to be played, but there’s not a team that we play that we can expect to be successful against if they’re that comfortable.
“That’s on us to figure that out.”
Wesleyan will attempt to snap a three-game losing skid with a home matchup Thursday against league foe Lake Erie.
“That’s a big game,” Cooper said, “and I hope our program is ready to take the pressure on. ... I hope we’re ready for it, because if we’re gonna take off, we’ve got to do it now.”