Oakland defeats UDM Titans, Davis at home


Ryan Pini

Men’s basketball defeats University of Detroit Mercy 78-69 on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.

Grant Richards

While most had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads this winter break, the Oakland University men’s basketball team had their eyes set on something a tad less festive. 

Not only did Oakland have their first Horizon League match-up of the season, but the Golden Grizzlies also squared off with their in-state rival, the University of Detroit-Mercy Titans.

“I had been told that a lot of these new guys might not know what this Detroit series means,” Coach Greg Kampe said. “From Oct. 1 until today, the team got a text from their head coach saying, ‘This many days until playing Detroit.’” 

The team has ten new players that have yet to experience the significance of the series, but senior forward Xavier Hill-Mais has been involved in this rivalry for five years. 

“We don’t lose to Detroit,” Hill-Mais said, with a brief pause to let his statement sink in. “That’s something that we pride ourselves on … We had to grind it into our brains.”

To start the game, the Golden Grizzlies jumped out to a 14-0 lead. However, things got dicey toward the end of the game, despite never allowing Detroit to lead or be within eight points.

Oakland maintained a double-digit lead throughout the first 30 minutes of the eventual 78-69 victory, but began to stall while Detroit began to catch fire, thanks to multiple corner three-point shots.

Kampe explained that some offensive opportunities were more available for the Titans due to the team’s defensive game plan, which was centered around shutting down Antoine Davis.

“What we were doing defensively put us in a bad situation, you have to give some things up when you overplay like that,” Kampe said. “But, Tray Maddox Jr. is an NBA-level on-ball defender… he has potential to be great.” 

The sophomore guard held the Horizon League’s leading scorer to 4-17 shooting on the night. Giving Davis the reins was clearly Detroit’s game plan as the sophomore guard played all 40 minutes. 

Hill-Mais would go on to record a 19 point, 10 rebound double-double, but the Golden Grizzlies also got help from Maddox’s 18 points and Blake Lampman’s team-leading four three-pointers. 

Brad Brechting would record 10 rebounds and sunk two clutch free throws to stop Oakland’s scoring drought late in the second half.

Oakland’s student section, the Grizz Gang, chose quality over quantity as their slightly smaller-than-usual crowd turned up the heat on Detroit for the full 40 minutes. The team clearly feeds off the Grizz Gang’s energy, as after the game, the team took part in the post-victory ritual of jumping into the Grizz Gang’s arms. 

The next opportunity to see the Golden Grizzlies will come Thursday, Jan. 23 when UIC comes to town for a 7 p.m. tip-off.