TIFFIN, Ohio - Tiffin men's basketball exploded out of the gates to go up on the #9 team in the country by as many as 22 points in the first-half, but it would not be enough as the University of Findlay rallied back to escape with an 82-75 victory over the Dragons on Thursday evening.
The game marked Tiffin's inaugural voyage into Great Midwest Athletic Conference play, as the Dragons fall to 0-1 in the conference and 2-4 overall. The Oilers improve to 6-0 and 1-0 in the G-MAC.
The Dragons could not have dreamed of a better start to the contest, as four points each from Shane Waldon and Joshua Williams followed by a a Terrell Mabins steal and score opened the game with a 10-0 TU run. Findlay cut the lead down to 14-8 at the 16-minute mark, but Tiffin's rally continued as the Dragons proceeded to score 15 unanswered points, capped by a monstrous Waldon jam and a fast-break layup by Austin Adams. Adams' bucket gave the Dragons a 29-8 advantage just eight minutes into the game.
After the Oilers' Alex White dropped in a jumper to end the run, Adams pulled up for a deep three to give TU its biggest lead of the game, 32-10, at the 11:22 mark. Tiffin still held a 19-point advantage, 40-21, with five minutes to play in the half, but Findlay began to show why they were a top-10 team by maintaining composure and chipping away at the lead. Before the halftime buzzer sounded, the Oilers had gone on a 13-3 run to cut the deficit to 43-34 in favor of Tiffin.
The teams traded blows early in the second-half, and a triple from Williams pushed TU's lead back up to 10, 53-43, at the 14:16 mark. It would not last much longer, though, as Findlay scored 15 of the next 17 points on their way to a 28-8 run that gave the visitors a 71-61 advantage with 4:42 remaining.
A late Mabins triple brought the Dragons back within six, 77-71, with just over a minute to play, but the Oilers were able to make a few free throws to put away the game and win 82-75.
Tiffin ended up outshooting Findlay 42.1% to 31.3% from deep, but the Oilers held the advantage from the field, shooting 50% to TU's 45.6%. Tiffin also outrebounded Findlay 41-36, but it was the Oilers with a 50-40 advantage in the paint. The Dragons were also just 45.5% (5-11) from the free throw line.
Waldon and Adams each scored 18 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead Tiffin. The 10 rebounds are a Tiffin career-high for Waldon, who also added three assists and four blocks. Mabins was also in double figures, scoring 13 points, and was the third Dragons to finish with a double-double as the senior dished out a career-high tying 10 assists.
Williams finished with 11 points, and Justin Miller contributed eight points and three rebounds off the bench.
Next up for Tiffin is another tough home contest, as the Dragons host Hillsdale on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.