Oakland loses out of Motor City Madness

Michael Pearce, Staff Reporter

The men’s basketball season has come to an end in the form of a 44-43 loss to the No. 8 seed Cleveland State Vikings in the Motor City Madness semifinals. Offensively, the Golden Grizzlies struggled greatly, shooting 25 percent from the floor and just under 21 percent from three point range.

“It was a tough one,” Head Coach Greg Kampe said. “I hate to be cliche, but everybody in the country is going to end like this. It ended too soon for us. Give Cleveland State credit but the reality is we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”

Oakland’s offense was looking normal early on, as the team led the Vikings 23-11 with six minutes to go in the first half, but then the momentum shifted. Once senior guard Jalen Hayes picked up his third foul and was benched by Kampe, the Vikings were able to chip away at the lead, shutting down the Golden Grizzly offense.

“After Jalen picked up his third foul we only scored 20 points the rest of the game,” Kampe said. “We lost by one. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life, never in a game I have coached. We had a lot of open looks and the ball just wouldn’t go in.”

Hayes led the team in scoring with 20 points, and also added 11 rebounds. Senior guard Kendrick Nunn had 19 points as well, meaning the duo of Hayes and Nunn provided 91 percent of Oakland’s scoring. Only two other players even scored points for the Golden Grizzlies, with the first basket not from Hayes or Nunn coming 30 minutes into the game from sophomore Isaiah Brock.

Despite scoring 19, Nunn missed a wide open 3-pointer from the corner that would have given the Black and Gold a four point lead with under a minute to play.

“We all had some wide open shots that we could have knocked down,” Nunn said. “They could have gave us a big lead, the ones we missed. That was a big part of the game.”

Oakland did have a chance to win the game with 14 seconds to go. Off of a missed Cleveland State free throw, Nunn missed a mid range jump shot off of a ball screen. When the ball ended up in the hands of a Vikings defender, the buzzer had sounded, and the game was over.

“I came off a ball screen – maybe it could have been a foul,” Nunn said. “I just came off the screen and missed a floater.”

Visibly emotional after the game and on the verge of tears, Hayes, a fifth year senior, expressed the fact he had no regrets, and his teammates are family for him.

“Through all the ups and downs we’ve been through this season, I wouldn’t trade anything or take anything back,” he said. “This loss will be tough to get over, but this is a great group of guys, and these memories will last a lifetime for me.”

Nunn, a transfer from Illinois who was not in the program as long as Hayes, said he felt no different than if he had been there five years.

“I came in and they gave me bear hugs,” Nunn said. “A new guy coming in as a transfer, they welcomed me in. I made some brothers, and that’s the most important thing. That will last a lifetime.”

Moving past the loss, Kampe reflected on the quality of his senior class and what they mean to him.

“This class really was special for me,” Kampe said. “This was supposed to be the recruiting class that had to win the Horizon League. The growth they have had, the stories they have, they have turned out to be great men. It was a hell of a class, great people. I’m going to miss them, I really will.”