Oakland dominates second half to beat East Tennessee State, goes to finals of Vegas 16

Sam Schlenner

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With 2:30 to go in the game, Kay Felder missed a layup and got his own rebound. He got outside the three-point line. Martez Walker swooped down from the paint to the left side, behind the arc. Felder passed it. Walker shot it.

“Is this it?” the CBS Sports Network play-by-play announcer said.

Yes.

But it wasn’t Walker’s triple he was referring to. Felder got the second triple-double of his career on that basket. The second in Oakland’s history.

Gibson ran back down the court with a big ol’ grin on his face. Felder just glanced up, maybe at the scoreboard, and almost smiled. Then he started guarding again.

Oakland men’s basketball seemed to do everything right Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Vegas 16. But it took a while.

The Golden Grizzlies ended the first half with a five-minute, 9-0 run, but the stat sheet still didn’t look too pretty.

East Tennessee State and Oakland had traded the lead six times. The Golden Grizzlies led by two and had been shooting 37.8% from the field. Felder was 3-for-11; Jalen Hayes was having an uncharacteristic zero-point game; Percy Gibson was scoring, but had only taken four shots; Martez walker hadn’t scored.

And then there was Max Hooper, who shot 4-for-7 behind the arc in eleven minutes of playing time and wouldn’t miss another one.

Apparently everyone wanted to be like Max.

The rocket launch started with 14:08 to go in the second half. It was 53-52 East Tennessee State off a three-pointer by Lester Wilson.

Sherron Dorsey-Walker made a three. Hooper wanted to follow, so he stole the ball, shot a three and got fouled.

Hooper missed the basket, but made the foul shots and sent the Oakland lead to five.

Blastoff. Farewell.

“The last thirteen to fifteen minutes of this game, we peaked,” Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said in the post-game GrizzVision interview with Neal Ruhl. “We played at an unbelievable level.”

Oakland (23-11) defeated the East Tennessee State Buccaneers (24-12) 104-81 Tuesday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Felder’s numbers on the night were simply serendipitous. He broke the Horizon League single-season assist record, and his total stands at 313, the area code for Detroit, from where Felder, Walker, Dorsey-Walker and Gibson hail.

He bumped up the Horizon League career assists record to 777. Vegas, anyone?

Plus, he turned 21 years old. What better birthday gift to give yourself and your team than 29 points, 10 rebounds (five offensive, five defensive) and 10 assists?

Hooper followed Felder right up there with 28 points, shooting 8-for-11 behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the line. It’s like he thought he was back in Wisconsin again, where he ignited on the road trip that sparked the Golden Grizzlies’ six-game win streak which got them back into the upper reaches of the Horizon League. He got three boards.

Gibson got 15 points and shot 7-for-10 from the field. He picked up five rebounds.

Martez Walker got 10 points and five boards.

Xavier Hill-Mais shot 2-for-3 from the field and scored seven.

Sherron Dorsey-Walker scored six.

Nick Daniels got five points. He closed the defensive vice “On a kid … that had 31 and 10 last night,” Kampe said.

For East Tennesssee State, Ge’Lawn Guyn led with 16 points, and got nine boards.

T.J. Cromer and Desonta Bradford scored 15. Bradford shot 6-for-9 from the field.

Lester Wilson scored 11.

A.J. Merriweather scored 10 and shot 4-for-6 from the field.

Oakland plays Old Dominion in the finals of the Vegas 16 at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 30. Watch on CBS Sports Network, stream on College Sports Live and Vegas16.com, or listen on WDFN-AM (1130).

It’ll be Oakland’s third game in three days.

“We had three weeks off,” Kampe said, “so we were all rested. I think we’ll be excited, and the adrenaline’ll be pumping.

Old Dominion is 24-13.

“They’ve got two great offensive players,” Kampe said. “We’re gonna have to guard and we’re gonna have to rebound. If we do those two things, we might have a chance. They’re really good.”