FINDLAY - Next stop, the Elite Eight.
The University of Findlay men's basketball team capped off its run through the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional with a 94-73 victory over Ferris State last night in front of a sold-out crowd at Croy Gymnasium.
The victory catapults Findlay into the Elite Eight for the first time in school history on a night when it played perhaps its best game of the season.
The Oilers (30-3) shot a blazing 64.9 percent (37-of-57) from the field and got a game-high 29 points from Chris Commons, the former Toledo Central Catholic standout. Commons was one of four Oilers in double figures as Findlay used its balance to overwhelm the Bulldogs (24-7).
"We've had a rough six weeks or so trying to defend first place in the conference, trying to defend first place in the region and having the added burden of being ranked No. 1," Findlay coach Ron Niekamp said. "It's a relief to win this game and very rewarding."
Marwan Gaines scored 19 points, Dustin Pfeifer hit for 15 and Tyson McGlaughlin had 13 as the Oilers earned a trip to Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., next week.
"I wanted to come out hard tonight," Commons said. "I played my best game of the tournament tonight and I'm glad I could do it for the coaches and the seniors on this team."
Ferris State battled all night, but a pair of runs sealed its fate.
The first was an 11-2 Findlay run over the final four minutes of the opening half that gave the Oilers a 48-34 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs, who shot 47.5 percent (29-of-61), cut their defict to 62-57 with 10:12 remaining.
But the Oilers wouldn't let a comeback happen, pounding the ball inside to Commons and Gaines as they killed the Bulldogs' spirit once and for all with an 18-4 run that made the score 80-61.
"I thought we spent a lot of energy trying to get back into the game, and they just wore us down," Ferris State coach Bill Sall said. "It's obvious why they are the No. 1 team in the country."
Carlton Epps pumped in 18 points to lead the Bulldogs and Antwuan Holt and Jeffery Shanahan each scored 13. Scott product Dennis Springs finished with just six points but had six assists.
"I have nothing to hang my head about," Springs said. "We had a great season and helped build this program back up."