Men’s basketball moves to 2-0 in the Horizon League


Nowshin Chowdhury

Scoring 21 points for the Golden Grizzlies, Martez Walker led the team to its 76-65 win over Northern Kentucky University.

Christian Miller, Staff Reporter

Oakland progressed to 2-0 in league play after closing a 76-65 victory against Northern Kentucky University (NKU) on the Blacktop at the O’rena Saturday afternoon.

Oakland’s Martez Walker scored a crucial 21 points and nabbed six rebounds for the Golden Grizzlies.

Accompanying Walker’s efforts, Jalen Hayes locked down 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Oakland.

The Golden Grizzlies outperformed the Norse 44-32 in rebounds and 17-11 in assists.

Oakland held an 89 percent free-throw average, draining 16 of 18 shots, while NKU finished with a free-throw percentage of 58, with only 7 of 12 possible shots finding the net.

Although Oakland emerged victorious, NKU provided formidable challenges.

NKU’s presence within the key afforded valuable scoring opportunities for the Norse. Their aggression on the court resulted in a field-goal average of 42.6 percent and 3-point average of 31.6 percent, trumping Oakland in both statistics.

As the first half came to a close, the teams were tied at 35 points. Xavier Hill-Mais managed 10 points, and his concentration on rebounds provided Oakland a steady supply of opportunities to score.

Returning from halftime, Oakland continued pursuing the net and generated many scoring opportunities.

With 14:44 left on the clock, Hayes placed a good basket that propelled Oakland forward 50-40. The double-digit lead was the first of the game for either team, and the Golden Grizzlies continued their momentum.

For the remainder of the game, Oakland’s lead did not dip below five points, and the Golden Grizzlies managed to prevent NKU from scoring for nearly four minutes.

Vital to this scoring drought was Walker, who had been assigned to cover NKU’s Cole Murray. Walker’s defense was successful, restricting Murray to just three points for the entire game.

Much of Oakland’s second-half success rested in its ability to move the ball and circulate players underneath the net.

In the second half alone, Oakland garnished 10 fast breaks that supplemented its lead.

As time dwindled down to zero, Oakland maintained an 11-point lead over NKU. Coming off with the victory was important for Oakland Head Coach Greg Kampe.

“There’s a lot of good that came out of tonight,” Kampe said. “I have some great players that are doing a lot of good things.”

Assessing his own performance, Hill-Mais focused on the importance of rebounding.

“I think that, early on, making those easy drop-ins helped us a lot,” Hill-Mais said. “I wish I could have rebounded the ball better. I feel like, if I would have rebounded better, then it would have helped us more moving forward.”

Walker offered his insight on the team’s offensive efficiency.

“We just have to fix our mistakes on the offensive end,” Walker said. “Our offense has to come through and flow. We just have to get it to our bigs, let them get going, and then really kick it up from there.”

Oakland men’s basketball will play Friday, Jan. 6, when the Golden Grizzlies lace up to take on Valparaiso on the road. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET.