Men’s basketball opens league play with 86-68 victory over Cleveland State

Kristen Davis

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On Saturday afternoon when the Oakland University men’s basketball team began league play in the O’rena against Cleveland State, Kay Felder threw down an electrifying dunk with about eight minutes to play in the second half that brought nearly all 2,508 fans in attendance to their feet.

The alley-oop, which came off a pass from Nick Daniels, sparked an eruption from the crowd that gave the team energy to feed off of to finish the game. It also opened up a 20-point Oakland lead – its largest of the game – on its way to claiming an 86-68 victory over the Vikings.

“It was basically like we were having fun out there and everything was rolling,” Felder said about the dunk.

“All the sudden our defense picks up, our offense started picking up and we started doing things that we knew we can do. We dominated the game today.”

Cleveland State’s Vinny Zollo scored the first points of the game, but Martez Walker responded with a jumper which sparked a 9-0 Golden Grizzlies run and the Vikings never led at any point in the game again.  

Cleveland State shot just 12-for-37 in the first half, which included a 3:19 scoreless stretch, compared to Oakland’s 14-for-25 first half field goal percentage. In the second half, the Vikings were able to cut Oakland’s lead to eight points, but that was as close as they would get in their attempt to make a comeback.

“It’s league time, and you got to play. I thought we really played a good game today,” head coach Greg Kampe said after the game.

“Anytime you win a league game is good. To win decisively is good and to play the way we played at both ends of the floor is good.”

Kampe added that although the team didn’t play perfectly, especially early on, he thought the team played hard and “fairly smart.”

“The big thing for us is we made a lot of mistakes – we had 13 turnovers, a bunch of them in the first half, trying to do too much,” he said. “When you have a lot of weapons like we do, you have to settle in and figure out which ones are working that day and it usually takes a while.”

Felder finished the game with 20 points and 10 assists on 8-for-16 shooting, which included two three pointers. It’s his seventh double-double of the year and he has scored 20 points or more in every game this season.

Jalen Hayes recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds, which included a 9-for-10 effort from the free throw line. The play before Felder’s dunk, Hayes put a Cleveland State defender on a poster which also added to the Golden Grizzlies momentum.

“Coach always preaches to me that when I get the ball in the post, if they’re not doubling down, just be aggressive and get to the rim, so that’s what I was focusing on,” Hayes said. “When I’m out there, I’m giving it 100 percent. That’s my role on the team.”

Head coach Greg Kampe said he’s been urging Hayes to be more physical and he was satisfied with the aggressiveness the redshirt sophomore exhibited in the game.  

“During a timeout, we really talked to Jalen about in the first half, [he’s] getting that ball in transition and he’s shooting that jump hook,” Kampe said.

“[We told him] we want you to go dunk the ball in transition. Go get to the free throw line. And in the second half, he did what we asked him to do and that’s always gratifying as a coach.”

Kampe also had high praise for Sherron Dorsey-Walker, calling him the “glue” to this year’s Oakland team. Dorsey-Walker recorded five points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the victory.

“If you’re in the locker room, he’s the guy that’s funny, he’s the guy that always has the last thing to say. He’s a tremendous kid, a tremendous leader, great student … And he does all the dirty work,” Kampe said.

“We needed him to get back on the boards and he did that today. He’s a key to our team, he’s going to play 30 minutes a game, he’s going to guard the best guy, he’s just going to do all the little things.”

Percy Gibson finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Max Hooper went 4-for-5 from the three-point line and finished with 15 points and Nick Daniels finished with seven points and four rebounds.

The Golden Grizzlies (9-5, 1-0) return to play the second of four straight home games on Monday at 7 p.m. against Youngstown State. Oakland defeated Youngstown State in both matchups last season.