Men’s basketball’s comeback efforts fall short in loss to UWGB

Melissa Deatsch, Sports Editor

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The Oakland men’s basketball team suffered another conference loss on Friday, Jan. 27 to University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 80-72. The loss to the second-place Phoenix (12-8, 7-2 HL) brought the Golden Grizzlies to 5-4 in the Horizon League and 15-7 for the season.

Oakland trailed Green Bay the entire game, struggling offensively. With less than a minute left on the clock, the Golden Grizzlies narrowed the gap to within 5 points, but they ultimately came up short.

The Golden Grizzlies continued their trend with another rough 3-point performance. Oakland finished 4-for-21 from behind the arc.

Additionally, Oakland struggled with some uncharacteristic troubles from the free-throw line. The Black and Gold went 5-for-11 from the line in the first half, and finished 12-for-21 despite heading into the game with a .763 percentage in that category.

Jalen Hayes spoke to the team’s offensive woes in the postgame press conference.

“That’s not us at all,” Hayes said of the team’s 57-percent free-throw performance. “We’ve been missing shots we know we can make . . . we’ve got to make shots.”

Head coach Greg Kampe spoke of the team’s confidence issues through this rough stretch of games. Hayes had said the team remains confident. However, Kampe later disagreed, saying their offensive struggles from the 3-point line had now moved to the free-throw line, and he suspected it was due to a lack of confidence.

“I heard [Hayes] say that we haven’t lost our confidence,” Kampe said. “I would fully disagree with him in the shooting with that. Now we can’t even make free throws . . . I think confidence probably has something to do with it.”

Hayes led the Golden Grizzlies offensively with 23 points. Martez Walker followed with 18, and Sherron Dorsey-Walker finished with 15. Hayes had his 21st career double-double, adding 13 rebounds.

Absent again from the lineup and sporting a hard cast was guard Stevie Clark. He has missed the past three games due to a thumb injury. Clark is expected to be re-evaluated on Feb. 7 when he has his cast removed and will get a follow-up X-ray.

Playing in Clark’s place was freshman Brailen Neely, who went 1-for-3 from the field with a 3-pointer.

Kampe discussed the difficulties of players who aren’t used to playing point guard having to step up and run the point. He said his solution going forward will have to be to let Neely stay in through his mistakes.

“Brailen really struggled out of the gate, as he did at Wright State, and I sat him,” Kampe said after the game. “I put [Neely back] in and he finally made a shot, and then I just let him play. He made a bunch of mistakes . . . but I got to let Brailen play through his mistakes and let him get better.”

Playing through his mistakes may better prepare Neely for the Horizon League tournament, which is now the team’s main focus due to the improbability of a regular season championship.

The Golden Grizzlies returned to the Blacktop just two days later to battle the Milwaukee Panthers (4-5 HL) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29.