The Oakland University men’s basketball team narrowly missed an opportunity to beat a BCS school for the third straight season, falling at West Virginia 76-71 on Wednesday night.
Junior guard Travis Bader led all scorers with 25 points, marking the fifth time this year he has had at least 20 in a game.
In the first half, Bader and senior forward Drew Valentine combined for 26 points, helping OU (4-8) to a 39-37 lead.
However, in the second half at the 11:39 mark, Bader picked up his fourth foul, forcing head coach Greg Kampe to bench the nation’s leading three-point shooter.
With Bader off the court, the Golden Grizzlies went cold, allowing West Virginia (5-5) to go on a 11-2 run to take a 63-54 lead with just over nine minutes to play in the contest.
Kampe gambled by re-inserting Bader into the lineup with over eight minutes left to play, but it paid off as Oakland responded with a run of their own, a 9-2 scamper.
Bader eventually tied the game at 71, using one of his six three pointers, with less than three minutes to play.
Despite strong defense that featured Oakland only allowing WVU to score one field goal over the final five minutes of regulation, the Golden Grizzlies could not regain the lead.
Sophomore center Corey Petros had a golden opportunity to tie the game with 19 seconds left, but he missed the first free throw of a one and one opportunity. The Mountaineers rebounded the ball, and junior center Aaric Murrary iced the game away with three free throws over the final eighteen seconds of regulation.
Murrary, returning from a one-game suspension for disciplinary reasons, led West Virginia with a double-double, scoring 12 and collecting 10 rebounds.
Junior guard Duke Mondy nearly had a triple double for Oakland, scoring 10, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing eight assists.
West Virginia’s bench outscored Oakland 37 to 2, with sophomore guard Matt Poches accounting for the only points by a non-starter.
Wednesday marked the fifth time that Oakland had held a second half lead before eventually losing the game. The Golden Grizzlies fell to 1-8 on the road.
Oakland travels to Ypsilanti on Saturday, to take on Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m. The game can be heard locally on WDFN-AM 1130.