Oakland falls to Milwaukee, ends six-game win streak

Jalen Hayes scored 22 points in his 38 minutes of play and recorded his fourth 20-plus points game of the year. 

Five minutes into the second half, in a packed O’rena that at times might as well have been empty if you closed your eyes, Oakland men’s basketball head coach Greg Kampe stared across the court at his faltering team and shook his head almost imperceptibly. Something was not right.

It hadn’t been right since the Golden Grizzlies shot 3-for-16 from the field in the first eight minutes of the game, letting an 8-point deficit gape open between them and the Milwaukee Panthers.

It hadn’t been right since Matt Tiby, living up to his school’s nickname, broke past a lax Oakland defense, scored with gusto and trotted back to the bench, very nearly pumping his chest, yelling “I want more!”

It hadn’t been right since the starting Milwaukee five (on a team loaded with only nine players to Oakland’s eleven) combined for 40 in the first half, their team shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

The lead menaced back up to 14 on a layup from Cody Wichmann. Then it seemed to go right.

In five and a half minutes, thanks to a triple each from Nick Daniels and Kay Felder, a couple of layups from Jalen Hayes and three foul shots from the sophomore, Oakland squeezed the lead to five.

It was as close as they got.

Milwaukee pulled away, but not so much that the loss was completely inevitable and as painless as it could have been. The lead remained about ten for the last four minutes, sometimes shrinking a few points. Just close enough to torment.

With 1:47 to go, Kay Felder fouled out. Silence in the O’rena. Oakland was eight away with a couple of minutes to play. It had been possible, and was now less.

Felder talked with Daniels right out on the court in the aftermath of the whistle, not looking too pleased with himself or the ref or the something that had made this game so slippery.

Daniels talked to this man who had, some minutes previous, broken the Horizon League record for career assists as only a junior. And this man looked distraught.

Because it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. This game, so crucial for a top-two seed in the Horizon League Tournament less than a month away, so crucial for the sentiment of the home fans who’d went home disappointed half the time during conference play by this Oakland team that is strangely brilliant on the road and that was rolling on six straight victories coming in, this one they were supposed to win.

Daniels tried to comfort him, but reality set in.

Felder untucked his shirt, the chords of his shorts dangling in front. Kampe was silent, staring again. Felder left the court and later sat down. People clapped for him. Some left their seats and walked right then.

Oakland lost 93-85. The win streak of six games, five of which had been on the road, ended Thursday night.

Stats spotlight

Oakland falls to 17-9 (9-4) and Milwaukee advances to 16-9 (7-5).

Kay Felder broke the Horizon League record in career assists in his third year of play. He dished 12, scored 22, and rebounded six, his 14th double-double of the season.

Jalen hayes also scored 22, shooting 8-for-15 from the field, and grabbed eight boards. He played 38 minutes and dunked twice.

Nick Daniels scored 13 and buried three triples, shooting 5-for-12 from the field.

Sherron Dorsey-Walker got a couple of threes and scored nine.

The Panthers starting lineup scored 87 of their 93 points, every starter in double digits, three getting double-doubles. Milwaukee averaged 79 points a game coming in.

Matt Tiby led with 24 points and shot 9-for-14 from the field, snatching 11 rebounds. He left late in the game with what appeared to be an injured ankle.

Austin Arians shot 5 for 6 from behind the arc, getting 18 overall with four boards.

6-foot-10 J.J. Panoske scored 17 and got 11 rebounds 

Jordan Johnson scored 14 and delivered 10 assists.

Akeem Springs grabbed seven boards and also scored 14.

Press conference

“I’m going to call one play out that I think signifies the difference in where we’re at in our journey to become a champion,” Kampe said.

The ball got loose on Oakland’s side in the first half and rolled toward the baseline.

“Tiby was at about the free-throw line,” Kampe said. “And that kid took off like a locomotive to go get that ball. 

The Golden Grizzly on Milwaukee’s side of the baseline dawdled, thinking the ball would roll out of bounds, Oakland’s possession. And it almost did. But two inches from the line, Tiby grabbed the thing and scored.

“And that’s us,” Kampe said. “We’re two inches away. But we have yet to learn that type of intensity and that type of toughness that that kid brings to the table.”