Oakland wins second game to sweep Metro Series against UDM

Michael Pearce, Staff Reporter

White t-shirts covering every seat in the O-Rena, ESPN2 calling the game, Grizz Gang in full effect. Oakland’s rival Detroit Mercy was in the building for the second game of the Metro Series, and the energy in the stadium was felt from the opening tip.

A 3-pointer by senior guard Kendrick Nunn put the Golden Grizzlies up 13-0 after five minutes. The crowd was roaring and Detroit Mercy was facing a deficit similar to the one they faced on Jan. 20 in their own building.

The Titans rallied quickly, going on a 17-3 run over three minutes and taking a 17-16 point lead with 12 minutes remaining in the half.

“That’s what rivalry games are about,” Head Coach Greg Kampe said. “They were about to get embarrassed and we were shell shocked by it.”

Oakland fell further behind after UDM’s Kameron Chatman and Jermaine Jackson Jr. dropped in three quick 3-pointers, widening the gap to seven points. After a missed wide open 3-pointer and subsequent missed follow up jumper by Nunn, the Golden Grizzlies walked back into the locker room down 45-38.  

Detroit Mercy relied on 3-pointers in the first half to get the lead, hitting 10 of 16 from beyond the arc. Chatman led the team with 13 points, while senior Jalen Hayes was the leading scorer for Oakland with nine.

The second half had a much different story than the first as Oakland increased the defensive pressure and forced turnovers to begin the final 20 minutes. In the second half, the Titans missed all six 3-pointers the team attempted.

“We just stayed in front of the ball,” Oakland senior guard Martez Walker said. “They didn’t get any wide open shots. They were making a lot of their wide open shots in the first, so we made adjustments. We switched onto people, and guarded the ball.”

In addition to an increased defensive effort, shots were falling for the Golden Grizzlies. Nunn had 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, and Oakland was able to regain the lead after 3-pointers from both him and senior guard Nick Daniels.

Once Oakland took the lead, they never gave it back. From the 15 minute mark on in the second half, Oakland either had the lead or the game was tied.

With three and half minutes to go, Oakland led by five points. Sophomore Chris Palombizio hit Hayes with a backdoor pass for an easy layup, and recorded two blocks on the defensive end.

“I’d like to shout out Chris Palombizio,” Kampe said. “He played seven really good minutes for us, and made some key plays down the stretch.

The Golden Grizzlies were able to hold on to the lead and were victorious, winning 87-78 on national television. Kampe and the players credited the Grizz Gang for creating an energetic atmosphere.

“The TV looked good because the Grizz Gang once again were sensational,” he said. “They’re the best student section. You can’t downplay what they mean to us. Game day at the O’rena is something special and it’s because of our student section, the Blacktop, our marketing department, they work so hard.”

The win was the final regular season win over Detroit Mercy for Daniels and Walker, who both were visibly excited after the game, running into the Grizz Gang and hugging the students.

“8-2 in the Metro Series games-it’s very emotional,” Daniels said. “There were a lot of emotions going through my body. I love the Grizz Gang. They bring the emotion to the game, and that’s why we play so hard.”

“ESPN just didn’t decide to put Oakland on, they put us on because we win, and are one of the top mid-major teams in the nation,” Kampe said. “They come because they want to come here. That’s big time basketball. I’m proud of everyone who puts an effort into this, because it’s world class.”