Men’s basketball continues its perfect season at home with win over Southern Utah

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Men’s basketball continues its perfect season at home with win over Southern Utah

Martez Walker led Oakland with 19 points Saturday evening at the O'rena against Southern Utah University. Oakland won 78-68 to extend its record to 6-0 at home.

Martez Walker led Oakland with 19 points Saturday evening at the O'rena against Southern Utah University. Oakland won 78-68 to extend its record to 6-0 at home.

Bohdanna Cherstylo

Martez Walker led Oakland with 19 points Saturday evening at the O'rena against Southern Utah University. Oakland won 78-68 to extend its record to 6-0 at home.

Bohdanna Cherstylo

Bohdanna Cherstylo

Martez Walker led Oakland with 19 points Saturday evening at the O'rena against Southern Utah University. Oakland won 78-68 to extend its record to 6-0 at home.

Christian Miller, Staff Reporter

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In fashion with the holiday season, Oakland men’s basketball (8-1) wrapped up a 78-68 win against Southern Utah University (SUU) (2-6) on the Blacktop of the O’rena Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the continuation of the Golden Grizzlies’ perfect 6-0 season on the Blacktop, added to their 8-game home-court winning streak and became win number 751 in program history.

Martez Walker scored 19 points for Oakland, draining three 3-pointers during the game. Jalen Hayes contributed 15 points and secured nine rebounds.

Accompanying Hayes’ efforts under the net, Oakland newcomer Isaiah Brock locked down seven rebounds and 10 points, three of which were dunks, for the Golden Grizzlies.

Much of the team’s success on the court came from its ability to secure the ball and circulate it to players who could convert chances into points. Currently, Oakland is fourth in the NCAA, dishing out 20.4 assists per game.

At 13th in the country for assists, junior transfer Stevie Clark is fostering the passing game, averaging 6.5 assists per game. Clark also earned seven points for Oakland against the SUU Thunderbirds.

The Golden Grizzlies doubled the Thunderbirds in fast breaks 12-6, an effort that contributed to Oakland’s 38-24 lead at the end of the first half.

As the team exited the court for the intermission, energy from the crowd continued to grow in anticipation of the annual mitten toss.

The toss, a tradition conceived by Oakland’s swim and dive teams, allowed audience members an opportunity to donate clothing to local charities. As the announcer counted down from three, a cascade of colors showered the court in gloves.

Returning from the intermission, Oakland continued to expand its existing lead over SUU.

Hayes was the first to put points on the board after two successful free throws, putting Oakland up 40-27. James McGee, assisted by Randy Onwuasor, responded with a good 3-pointer for Southern Utah. Seconds later, Brock, assisted by Hayes, slammed his first dunk of the night, giving the Golden Grizzlies two more good points.

Oakland dominated for the remainder of the second half, but a concerted drive led by SUU in the last four minutes narrowed the game to the 78-68 total.

In his 33rd season as head coach for Oakland, Greg Kampe addressed his team’s defensive capabilities.

“I really loved our defensive efforts tonight,” Kampe said. “For 36 minutes I thought we were a tremendous defensive team. Things got away from us the last four minutes, but a lot of different things happen during the course of a season and you have to play through those things and learn from your mistakes.”

Hayes commented on the team’s youthfulness.

“This is a new team,” Hayes said. “We’re still getting experience and still learning [about] each other throughout the course of every game. Every game we’re getting better and focusing on more detail.”

Martez Walker continued where Hayes left off.

“We have some young guys that are out there and still learning,” Walker said. “They’re part of the team, and they have to experience it too. Nobody is different from one another on the team.”

Oakland men’s basketball will face Robert Morris on the road Saturday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on WDFN-AM.