Oakland entered the game against the Wright State University Raiders tied for first place in the Horizon League, coming off their biggest win of the season against Northern Kentucky University and looking to move to 4-0 in the conference. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t really a contest with a final score of 89-73, Wright State.
The first score of the half belonged to Xavier Hill-Mais, which was a shot from three-point land. After that the Raiders went on a 14-0 run before Oakland was able to get back on the board with a nice post move by Hill-Mais. That 14-point run by the Raiders set the tempo for the rest of the half and the game.
Throughout the rest of the first half, the Golden Grizzlies weren’t able to build any steam, especially from deep, they went 3-16 (18.8 percent). Three-point shooting is typically a strong point for the Golden Grizzlies, before the game they entered the NCAA fourth in the category with a shooting percentage of 43 percent. Oakland entered the intermission down 11 on a close shot attempt at the buzzer by Karmari Newman that had barely rimmed out. The story of the game is typically ball control, and Oakland was turning the ball over too often. In the first half, they turned the ball over 11 times to the Raiders’ two turnovers.
The second half didn’t start any better for the Golden Grizzlies, the deficit was ballooning quickly. The lead grew to 21 points with about 13 minutes left in the game. Jaevin Cumberland started to bring the Golden Grizzlies back from the dead with four straight three balls between the 14th and 10th minutes remaining in the game. Cumberland went for five in a row but there was a bit of heat check as he went for a fading three, but he did end up making his next three-point attempt.
A major blow occurred when Hill-Mais drew his fifth foul, disqualifying him from the game with significant time left. Hill-Mais, as the leading scorer of the team, is a key piece so it was difficult for Oakland to play without him. Head Coach Greg Kampe made the decision to leave him out there due to the bigger deficit. If the game was a 10 or eight-point difference Kampe said he may have considered sitting him for a couple of minutes but he said it was an easy decision to roll the dice with Hill-Mais.
Oakland had cut the lead down to 10 with a score of 60-50 but from there on, things just didn’t work out. Forward Bill Wampler was big for the Raiders at the end of the game with a couple of 3-pointers that really put the game out of reach for Oakland. Other than Cumberland’s stellar shooting in the half, Oakland will have to look at this game as a learning experience.
“We had no energy and we didn’t play well,” Kampe said. “This is a game that could do more for us than any other game we’ve played all year and here’s why Wright State is picked to win the league they finished second last year and came back to win the conference tournament. They come in here at 1-2 [in conference play] and played for their lives.”
Oakland continues their season Thursday Jan. 10 at home against University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 7 p.m.