March 26, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Mass - Top-ranked Findlay moved one step closer to a record-setting season in NCAA Division II annals via a 67-65 Elite Eight semifinal victory against Central Missouri tonight at the MassMutual Center. The Oilers (35-0) now have a chance to become the first 36-0 club and only the fourth team to ever capture a national championship with an unblemished record. The last time that occurred was in 1996 when Fort Hays State (KS) finished 34-0.

Findlay will now meet Cal Poly Pomona (25-7) in Saturday's title game. CBS Sports will air the contest live, which is scheduled to get underway at 1:00 pm. The Broncos advanced with a 74-70 victory against Augusta State in tonight's other semifinal.

This one did come easy. The Oilers led for only one minute up until the 7:15 mark of the second half, but Central Missouri (30-5) turned the ball over and missed a shot in the final 30 seconds to allow Findlay to hang on for the victory.

Junior guard Marcus Parker provided the deciding blow for Findlay by drilling a 3-pointer from the left corner that put the Oilers up 66-65 with 43 seconds remaining. The Mules then turned the ball over on its next trip and after Findlay came up empty itself on the other end, senior guard De'Andre Byrd's 16-foot jumper with 13.3 seconds left from the right corner fell short. Findlay senior forward Josh Bostic was then fouled after he gathered in the loose ball with 1.9 seconds left. Bostic missed both of his free throws to keep the drama alive.

Central Missouri gathered the loose ball off the second miss and immediately called timeout with 1.5 seconds left. However, Byrd's desperation heave from half court fell short as the final buzzer sounded.

"This was another tough win for us, especially after struggling in the first half. We were guarded well by a tough Central Missouri team, but we found a way to win with better execution in the second half," said Findlay head coach Ron Niekamp.

Bostic filled up the box score with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead Findlay. Senior forward Morgan Lewis recorded his sixth "double-double" of the year with 16 points, on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor, and 11 rebounds; while senior guard Tyler Evans tossed in eight points in 20 minutes off the bench.

For Central Missouri, junior forward Sanijay Watts led four players in double-figures scoring with 18 points and five rebounds. Byrd wound up with 13, while junior forward Tremaine Luellen and senior guard Joe Young finished with 11 points apiece.

"I thought it was a great basketball game. Findlay made the plays when they needed to. We had opportunities, but didn't take advantage of them. However, I couldn't have been more proud of my team. You always say you want to leave it on the floor, and we certainly did that tonight", said Central Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.