Oakland beats Rochester University in final moments


Sophie Hume

The Golden Grizzlies win 61-59 in their first exhibition game against Rochester University in the O’rena on Thursday, Oct. 24.

The O’rena crowd sat quiet, stunned that Rochester University had kept the game close, as Tray Maddox took the ball up the floor with the game on the line. Rochester had just tied up the exhibition game with three consecutive free-throws after Maddox was called for a shooting foul.

Maddox dribbled up the court, watching the clock drain down, with a confident look in his eyes. In high school, Maddox hit a buzzer beater to win a Class A Quarterfinals match against Belleville. He had performed under pressure before, and was looking to do it again.

“I love those moments,” Maddox said. “I did it in high school, and now I’m trying to do it in college.”

The rest of the team cleared out for the sophomore guard, as he looked to beat his man one-on-one. Maddox went between the legs, crossed over and went to drive to his right when Rochester’s Cannon Campbell was called for a foul, sending Maddox to the line for two free throws.

Both were good, and the crowd was sent into a frenzy as Rochester called a timeout.

After the game-winning halfcourt heave fell short, Oakland University escaped the game with a 61-59 victory over Rochester.

With this being an exhibition game, Head Coach Greg Kampe was utilizing a deep 11-man bench, something he never does in league play. He was attempting to get a look at his new roster with seven freshmen.

“I wanted to get guys in there,” Kampe said. “If this were a league game … I played 11 guys in the first half. That will never happen. Never.”

The starting lineup was Kevin Kangu, Maddox, Daniel Oladapo, Xavier Hill-Mais and Brad Brechting. Freshmen Christopher Gettlefinger and Jackie Harris also saw 10 or more minutes.

In his 14 minutes, Gettlefinger scored five points and had two assists. The team was 14 points better with him on the floor. Gettlefinger and Kangu rotated at the point guard position, a position Kangu has never played before.

“Kangu played very poorly, and he’ll be the first to tell you that,” Kampe said. “I half expected it, I mean he’s never been there before and now the lights are on. I wanted to play him a lot in the first half and let him play through those mistakes.”

Oladapo, who was playing in his first game as a Golden Grizzly, scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds, both team highs. Oladapo made his presence felt on the offensive glass with multiple put-backs after missed shots, and scored easy points in transition.

His biggest play came early in the first half, where he took the ball up on a Rochester defender and dunked through contact, getting an and-1 basket. For Oladapo, it was a good moment to be out there with his team for the first time.

“It was fun,” Oladapo said. “The first real game with my team, trying to get out there and find my role a little bit. It was fun being out there dunking the ball, making plays and rebounding. I had a lot of fun.”

The game was closer than most fans expected, but Kampe scheduled this game with a tight game in mind.

In a game that was reminiscent of Hillsdale College in 2018, Oakland was tested by a team that played hard and was well-coached.

“I pick these exhibition games for a reason,” Kampe said. “With the team we have, I wanted to bring in a really well-coached team with a group of kids that I watch and I like that would give us everything they had.”

The next exhibition game will be against Saginaw Valley State University on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Despite the close score of the first exhibition game, Kampe remained positive about the team’s growth.

“We are a better team because of this game,” he said.