Oakland held off Morehead State to win 82-79 in a Bracketbusters game Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at O’rena.
Travis Bader scored 27 points and tied a school record with 348 3-pointers made in his career. Corey Petros blocked the potential game-tying layup in overtime to help the Grizzlies to victory.
“I think Corey is getting better every day and it shows,” head coach Greg Kampe said. “I think the smartest play he made was after getting the rebound on the block and getting the ball to Bass.”
Ryan Bass added 18 points and Drew Valentine had 15 points for the Golden Grizzlies (16-14). Petros, who blocked a floater by Morehead State guard Devon Atkinson with four seconds remaining, finished with six points and nine rebounds.
Like many games against physical opponents this year, Oakland had to battle through early troubles to pull out another win against the athleticism and size of Morehead State.
The Eagles gave OU trouble in the paint early and often, outrebounding the Grizzlies 43-37, including a 25-13 first half advantage that saw MSU snagging 11 offensive rebounds in the half.
“Give credit to Morehead and the way they played,” Kampe said. “They are a big and athletic team and their size really gave us some fits, but I like the way we stuck with it and battled back.”
Both teams had struggles through the first half scoring with Oakland shooting 39 percent from the floor. Morehead State shot just 42 percent from the field including going 2-12 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Bass came out aggressive, helping to keep OU within single digits at the half scoring 12 points in the first with OU down 41-34 by halftime.
“That was just Coach (Kampe) pushing me all week in practice,” Bass said. “He kept going back to my ability to get to the basket and sometimes I admit, I forget about it, so I came out looking for my shot.”
The Golden Grizzlies came out in the second half with a more physical effort on both ends of the floor to match the physicality of the Eagles, who got big play in the paint from center Chad Postumus, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds.
After switching up to a 3-2 zone on defense and inserting reserve forward Joey Asbury, who fronted Postumus on various occasions in his 12 minutes of play, he helped make scoring opportunities difficult down low for MSU.
OU gained its first lead on a layup by Bader with 11:13 to play in the second half. Bader followed that with a triple from the left corner to put Oakland up 57-55.
“I would have to definitely put them up there with teams like Pitt and Michigan State, as far as how physical they played us, making it difficult to find our rhythm,” Bader said.
Morehead State pushed its lead to seven with 6:54 remaining in the game on a dunk by Postumus to make the score 67-60.
Oakland kept cool and continued to battle going on a 14-2 run over a span of five minutes during the second half capped off by a layup by Valentine with 1:28 to play.
After a turnover by OU guard Duke Mondy, MSU tied things up at 74 on a three point play by guard Angelo Warner with 34 seconds left.
In overtime, Bass hit two free throws with 1:15 remaining to put OU up for good, making the score 80-77,
Dante Williams and Matt Poches both hit critical free throws to seal the game for Oakland, who won for the ninth time in 11 games. The Golden Grizzlies have won 20 straight February home games and are now 10-1 this season inside the O’rena.
“Our team has shown a lot of growth from November until now and I think games like this are a true test of how far this group has progressed this season.” Kampe said.
Next for OU is a chance for redemption as they face off against Fort Wayne where they suffered a loss on the road 77-71 in their last outing. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. Mar. 2 at the O’rena.
Contact Staff Reporter Allen Jordan at email@example.com or @aj1218 on Twitter.