Men’s basketball season comes to an end with loss to the Spiders

Melissa Deatsch, Sports Editor

The Oakland men’s basketball team traveled to Virginia to take on the University of Richmond in the second round of the program’s first NIT appearance. After a hard-fought 40 minutes, the Golden Grizzlies fell to the Spiders 87-83.

The first half proved to be a quality matchup between the two teams. They shot a comparable 48.4 (Oakland) and 48.6 (Richmond) percent from the field, and Richmond held only a 5-point lead at halftime.

After trailing for 18:25 of the first half, the Golden Grizzlies fought back, eventually tying the game at 49 with 15:11 left in the game. The second half saw 10 lead changes as the teams battled back and forth. Oakland controlled the lead for a total of just over 11 minutes of the half.

It came down to a 1-point game with 30 seconds left on the clock after Martez Walker converted a 4-point play after being fouled on his fourth 3-pointer of the night.

In the final seconds, Oakland trailed 2 points and had the ball. With three players in foul trouble, head coach Greg Kampe went with a play call for the win, not the tie.

“I had a choice to make: throw it in there to Jalen [Hayes] and hope he gets fouled or he makes a layup, and tie it and go to overtime, or let Martez fire one up and hope it goes in and win it,” Kampe said. “We probably weren’t going to win it in overtime with those three guys with four fouls.”

Oakland gave the ball to its hot-handed Walker at the 3-point line. His miss was highly controversial, as many, including Kampe, saw a foul on the play.

“I haven’t seen the play,” Kampe said. “What I saw live, I’m not sure I agreed with what happened . . . The referee is going to go watch it, and he’s either going to feel bad or say, ‘Yeah I was right,’ but it ain’t gonna change.”

The Spiders went on to make enough free throws to finish the game 87-83 over the Golden Grizzlies.

Walker led Oakland with 25 points, closely followed by Hayes, who scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a game that he hadn’t even been sure he could play in earlier in the week.

Hayes was sent to the hospital for stitches on Tuesday, after a hard fall in the game against Clemson sent one of his teeth through his bottom lip.

Jaevin Cumberland had an effective performance off the bench for Oakland. He averages six minutes a game, but played 22 against Richmond.

“Jaevin is probably our smartest player on our team,” Kampe said. “Against that offense they were running, we tried to make two-day adjustments, and I just felt like he was the one guy that would do what I wanted to do.”

In Cumberland’s 22 minutes, he scored 13 points, going 2-for-2 from the three and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.

The loss ends the 2016-2017 season for Oakland at 25-9. With 25 wins, this season ranks second in program history.

Kampe said, looking back on the year, he can’t be anything but proud of his team.

“We’ll get our rings, and we’ll celebrate this season,” Kampe said. “It was a tremendous season . . . If you win 25 basketball games in Division I, you have a hell of a team.”

Next year’s squad will have everyone returning, except graduating senior Sherron Dorsey-Walker. Although it’s only losing one member, the team still feels the heavy weight of that goodbye.

“He’s the epitome of what a leader is supposed to be, just a great all-around guy,” Hayes said. “Hopefully the seniors next year . . . will be able to take after what he’s done.”

Kampe agreed that Dorsey-Walker will be missed next season.

“I hate to see Sherron go,” Kampe said. “Just a great kid to coach . . . Special kids come along once in a while, and Sherron was a special kid, so your heart’s always heavy after a game like this.”