United Golden Grizzlies pummel Youngstown State, win fifth straight


The men’s basketball team defeated Youngstown State on the road Feb. 4, extending its win streak to five. 

By the time Kay Felder scored his first points over six minutes into Oakland’s quest for vengeance against the Youngstown State Penguins, who had kicked off Oakland’s mini downfall at the start of Horizon League play, his teammates Percy Gibson (with eight) and Max Hooper (with seven) had already helped construct a nine-point lead.

A well-oiled Golden Grizzlies men’s basketball team nurtured, grew and maintained the lead to cement a five-game win streak in a 107-85 road victory Thursday night in the Beeghly Center.

“We buried a bunch of ghosts today,” Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said in the postgame GrizzVision interview with Neal Ruhl.

Oakland (16-8, 8-3) blasted the game open early, leading 53-34 at halftime. If the Penguins (9-15, 4-7) could have erased those 20 minutes — really just the first 12, when the lead was forged — the game would have been different, given the 54 Oakland 51 Youngstown State second half scoring split. But Youngstown State did not elude those early, foreboding moments.

Felder led the cohesive Oakland charge with 17 points and tied a career-high 14 assists for his 12th double-double of the season. He ran within four rebounds of a triple-double, and jammed an alley-oop, which the team cheered at dinner as it ran later on SportsCenter.

Five other Golden Grizzlies scored in double digits. The Oakland bench counted for 57 points with Youngstown State’s counting for 18.

Jalen Hayes managed a quieter double-double (his 10th of the season) with 14 points and 12 rebounds (that’s 26 rebounds in two games), a third of which were offensive. He made all six of his free throws.

Max Hooper threw down five threes and bagged a couple of rebounds. He got 16 points.

Percy Gibson came off the bench and went 7-for-9 from the field with three offensive rebounds, also getting 16 points.

Nick Daniels, Martez Walker and Xavier Hill-Mais went 4-for-7 from the field, Daniels and Walker with ten points, Hill-Mais with eight.

Jaevin Cumberland got seven points, a career high.

Youngstown State’s numbers betrayed little amiss: 46.7 percent from the field, 50 percent on the three, 83.3 percent from the line. They got 29 rebounds. Four of its players scored double digits. Its two gems on the night, Cameron Morse and Francisco Santiago, scored more than 20.

But if you weren’t a Penguin in double digits Thursday night, you were a Penguin doing not enough. The rest of the team combined for 18 points.

The volume of Penguin threes was crucial: Oakland suffocated Youngstown State’s long game in the first half and well into the second, allowing only three attempts in the first, all missed. Kampe said the first half was the most closely a team he’s coached has ever executed a game plan.

Youngstown did circumvent the Oakland defensive strategy near the end of the game, scoring three 3s in the final five minutes. By then it was too late.

Youngstown State had shot 16-32 from long range when they defeated the Golden Grizzlies 100-98 at the O’rena on Jan. 4. But Thursday night, Oakland drastically transformed its defense, Kampe said.

“We said we’re not going to give up the three,” he said. “We put a guy in a one-man zone at the front of the rim.” The rest chased.

And there was redemption.

Oakland plays at Cleveland State at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 6. Watch on ESPN3 or listen on WDFN-AM 1130.