Oakland beats rival UDM Titans, improve to 5-2 in league play


courtesy of Detroit Mercy Athletics

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

Chants of “this is our house” rained down from the upper bowl of Calihan Hall, as the Grizz Gang made their mark on the Metro Series rivalry game. The players made their mark as well, winning 79-73 and improving to 5-2 in Horizon League play.

“This was a step in the right direction for us to win the Horizon League Championship,” Xavier Hill-Mais said.

Despite being 8-2 against Detroit Mercy since they joined the Horizon League, the Golden Grizzlies came into the game as the underdogs. Detroit boasted a 5-1 in-conference record, good enough to be No. 1 in the conference.

“We had a week to prepare for them, and I think that was huge,” Kampe said. “I can’t tell you how pleased I am with our players for executing the game plan.”

Head Coach Greg Kampe and the Golden Grizzlies had to stop Antoine Davis, the freshman scoring the most points in the NCAA with 27.7 a game.

“We guarded their three guys who could score and played a two-man zone,” Kampe said. “Any time Davis got the ball we ran and doubled him.”

For the most part in the first half, Davis remained in check, as he didn’t score a point for 11 minutes. Oakland had the lead for almost the entire first half, as both Hill-Mais and Jaevin Cumberland had 11 points, and Oakland shot 50 percent from the floor.

Brad Brechting played a key role in Oakland’s success in the first half, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. As a Cumberland shot bounced off the rim, Oakland went into halftime up 39-33.

Detroit came out of halftime strong, bringing the game within two points, and Davis was hitting more shots. Both teams struggled to separate themselves from the other for 10 minutes. With eight minutes remaining, Oakland flipped a switch.

Cumberland began to hit everything he took, including three straight free throws after getting fouled on a corner 3-pointer. He hit his sixth 3-pointer with a man in his face, stretching the lead to 72-55. The Golden Grizzlies scored 10 unanswered points in two minutes, holding a 17-point lead with six minutes left.

“They were doubling X (Hill-Mais) a lot,” Cumberland said. “So, I just went to the open spots and found the right shots.”

Detroit would not go down without a fight though. Willy Isiani hit three 3-pointers, and the game was beginning to flip. The UDM defense began to stifle the Golden Grizzly offense, forcing turnovers and easy layups. Davis hit a 3-pointer and Kampe had to call a timeout with the lead down to seven points.

The game remained tight until the end, as Davis kept getting to the free throw line, making all four of his attempts. Despite getting more points in the second half, Davis was visibly upset with the referees and the pressure of Oakland’s defense.

Detroit had a chance to bring the game to within one point, but the hottest shooter in the gym, Isiani, missed back-to-back threes and Maddox came down with the rebound. The game was over, and Oakland exited Calihan Hall victorious.

Oakland continues their road trip against their next opponent, the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Jaguars on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 11 a.m..