WHEELING - There are rough openers and then there's what Wheeling Jesuit experienced Monday night.
Playing before a large crowd inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center, the Cardinals were handed a decisive 97-66 setback to nationally-ranked Findlay.
"We've got a ways to go obviously," Wheeling Jesuit head coach Danny Sancomb said. "We've got some young guys, but I was proud of how we kept playing. Findlay may be the best team we play all year and I think we'll get better."
The Cardinals (0-1) opted not to play their season opener until almost two weeks after the majority of college basketball teams had began play because Sancomb valued the extra practice time with his youthful squad.
"We have to do a better job of executing, getting to the foul line and moving the ball," Sancomb said. "We just weren't able to do those types of things."
The Oilers, who had beaten Division I Wright State and played in a nip-and-tuck game before falling to Dayton, flexed their muscle early and often.
Playing with an upperclass dominated roster, the Oilers used a 18-2 run in the middle stages of the first half to begin to pull away from the Cardinals.
"They really hurt us in transition," Sancomb said. "They scored a ton of points that way and they got good looks all night."
Greg Kahlig played like an all-American for Findlay. He scored 17 of his 30 in the first half, including four 3-point goals. Jesuit simply had no one who could handle him on the defensive end.
"You can't let those guys get their feet set and hope they miss," Sancomb said. "You have to do something to make them miss or they're going to have a 30-point like (Kahlig) did."
The Oilers owned a commanding 50-32 edge at halftime.
Kahlig's production was complemented by former Hiland Hawk Dylan Kaufman, who poured in 13 of his 19 in the first half.
The Cardinals got as close as 14, which led to a Findlay 30-second time out early in the second half. However, the Oilers warmed up again from the field and embarked on an 18-3 run that stretched to 85-52.
"Our hands got down a little bit and (Findlay) just punched us in the face," Sancomb said. "They were able to maintain playing at a high level and I think we played about six minutes at that high level and it dropped and stayed the same."
Sophomore Eric Seifert led the Cardinals with 16 points.
Justin Fritts - a former Ohio Mr. Basketball - added 13, but 11 of those came in the first half. Zanesville High product Andre Harris added 10. Shadyside grad Justin Andes came off the bench to score eight.
"I think we only had two seniors (on the floor) most of the night," Sancomb said. "We were playing mostly with freshmen and sophomores. We have a lot to work on."
Wheeling Jesuit doesn't have long to feel sorry for itself. It heads to West Virginia State on Saturday afternoon to begin Mountain East play.
"It doesn't get any easier," Sancomb said. "I know they'll be ready to play."
FINDLAY (97) - Gardner 1, 2-3 4; Samsel 2, 0-0 5; Smith 3, 1-1 7; Baity 2, 0-0 4; Staley 2, 3-4 7; Stern-Tucker, 1, 0-0 2; Jones 1, 2-3 4; Heagen 3, 2-2 8; Kahlig 11, 2-3 30; Kaufman 7, 0-0 19; Kohls 1, 0-0 3; Frilling 1, 2-3 4; Totals: 36, 14-19 97. WHEELING JESUIT (66) - Harris 4, 0-0 10; Goff 2, 0-0 4; Majors 1, 0-0 2; Winters 2, 0-1 4; Fritts 5, 0-0 13; Andes 3, 0-0 8; Ritz 3, 0-0 6; Siefert 7, 1-2 16; Stewart 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 28, 1-3 66.
Three-Point Goals: F - Samsel, Kahlig (6), Kaufman (5), Kohls. WJU - Harris (2), Fritts (3), Andes (2), Siefert.