Eastern Illinois ousts Oakland in first round of CIT

By Jackson Gilbert

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It was a disappointing conclusion to a season of lows, highs, and lows.

Oakland men’s basketball fell to Eastern Illinois, 97-91, at the O’rena Tuesday night in the first round of the CIT tournament.

The defeat saddled the Golden Grizzlies with a final record of 16-17 — their third consecutive losing season. Oakland won just five of its first 17 games, rallied during Horizon League play to finish third with an 11-5 record, but lost their last three games to fall back below .500.

On a good note, sophomore point guard Kahlil Felder set a career high with 37 points on 13 off 22 shooting. Felder also added 11 assists and eight rebounds, leading the team in all three categories.

In the seniors’ final game, Dante Williams finished with 19 points and five rebounds. Corey Petros scored 12 points and four rebounds. Ralph Hill didn’t play.

After the game, Williams said he would’ve loved to win his final home game.

“I’d rather have zero points and win than 19 points and lose,” Williams said.

For Eastern Illinois, Reggie Smith scored 26 points and collected five rebounds. Trae Anderson added 19 points and six rebounds.

EIU made 15 of 31 threes. Oakland was 10 for 36.

Felder said after the game that they couldn’t stop them: “They were raining threes out there, even their post players.”

Noteworthy about the CIT tournament this year is the fact that officials are running a 30 second shot clock as opposed to the traditional 35 seconds. This accounts for the high scoring game; Oakland took 72 shots, well over its average of 52 attempts.

After the game, Oakland coach Greg Kampe had nothing but praise for the visiting Panthers.

“They played great,” he said. “They were making everything.”

Looking ahead, Oakland will have six new players on the roster next season, including three incoming freshmen and three major-college transfers, according to Kampe.

He said that he believes four of them will play significant roles next season.

Most importantly, however, will be the return of Felder. The team’s success in 2016 will be on Felder’s shoulders.