RENSSELAER, Ind. - Inside a steamy, barn-like gymnasium yesterday, the University of Findlay's hopes of a second straight NCAA Division II regional championship melted away.
The Oilers trailed by a single point with 65 seconds to go in regulation.
However, as was the case throughout the second half, they simply could not get over the hump against Quincy in the quarterfinal round of the Great Lakes Regional tournament.
The Hawks made the big plays down the stretch, including a backbreaking three-point play by Jordan Roth with 55 seconds left, as they ended the 11th-ranked Oilers' season with a 74-67 victory at the Richard F. Scharf Alumni Fieldhouse.
Roth led Quincy (22-9), unranked and sixth-seeded in the tournament, with 21 points.
Findlay's season ends at 25-5.
"We had some shots we would have liked to see fall, but they just didn't go in and [Quincy] made the shots it needed to make late in the game," said Oilers coach Ron Niekamp, whose team won the regional last season but came into this campaign minus the services of four graduated seniors.
"But we accomplished a lot this season. If you look back at the start of the season, not many people expected us to be here. I'm proud of our effort this season."
The Oilers raced out to a 19-6 lead in the first five minutes of the game and appeared to be well on their way to improving to 5-0 in regional tourney openers.
By halftime, though, thanks in large part to a 13-0 run by the Hawks that put them ahead 27-26 with 4:42 to go, Findlay was behind 39-35 and never recovered.
Yet, with the time against them and their hope fading away, the Oilers made one last push to save their season.
Findlay's lone senior, Dustin Pfeifer, scored 22 points.
"We felt like our defense was doing a good enough job to keep us in the game, but we couldn't hit the shots we needed," Pfeifer said. "I thought we took too many quick shots near the end and hurt ourselves with our turnovers."
Frank Phillips added 18 points and Dorian Bass had 11.
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