Oakland’s season Flames out


Oakland’s bench helplessly looks on. UIC defeated the Golden Grizzlies by three on Friday night.

It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season. Two weeks ago, Oakland blew out UIC by 25 points. Illinois-Chicago upset No. 3-seed Oakland University 72-69 on Friday night in Valparaiso in the second round of the Horizon League tournament.

Sophomore point guard Kahlil Felder scored 21 points but shot only 28 percent from the floor in the most important game of the season. He had five turnovers and just three assists.

“His decision-making today was really bad tonight,” head coach Greg Kampe said after the game.

It was Felder’s worst shooting game of the season. “We’re not going to win when our point guard takes 25 shots,” Kampe added.

Compounding the problems, Oakland’s 12 turnovers were costly. UIC converted 20 points from the giveaways. The Golden Grizzlies had only three points off turnovers.

Senior forward Dante Williams scored 21 points including 6 of 7 from three in the game. Freshman forward Jalen Hayes added 11 points and 11 rebounds, good for his third double-double of the season.

“Our team lost track of what we’re good at,” Kampe said. “They out-toughed us, they deserved to win.”

The referees called 23 personal fouls against Oakland and just 13 against UIC. The Flames were able so capitalize on those fouls, going 20 for 30 from the charity stripe. Oakland was 5 for 10 and Felder — an 84 percent free-throw shooter — missed 4 of 7.

Center Corey Petros had been averaging 4.75 free throw attempts per game in the Horizon League. The senior drew no fouls on Friday night.

A late intentional foul by Nick Daniels nearly put the game out of reach if not for Dante Williams’ four-point play shortly afterwards. UIC guard Jay Harris’ clutch free throw shooting late in the game secured the victory for the Flames.

Kampe blamed the loss on inexperience: “We had seven guys that had never played in a tournament before.”

Daniels was one of them. Another, Femi Olujobi, had no statistical production in five full minutes of play.

Kampe said they’re considering a bid to a postseason tournament, but a final decision has not been made. Oakland is 16-16 overall and beat UIC twice in February, 91-77 in Chicago and 81-56 in the O’rena on Feb. 22.

Weighing his disappointment, Kampe said, “This is the ultimate goal. Everything you do is for this weekend. You never feel good when you lose it.”