Starting the new year with a bang

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Sophomore point guard Kahlil Felder scored a career-high 32 points and OU’s men’s basketball team defeated Valparaiso, 89-75, in a thrilling Horizon League opener that required overtime to decide a victor.

Kahlil Felder was dominant for Oakland. He hit 6 of 14 shots from the floor, 19 of 24 free throw attempts, and also added five assists and six rebounds.

Oakland outscored its long-time rival 18-4 in the overtime session in front of a loud O’rena crowd. Official attendance was listed at 2,873, and those attendees showed their spirit.

Senior center Corey Petros managed just eight points but grabbed 12 rebounds to help power the Golden Grizzlies to victory.

Redshirt freshman Jalen Hayes put the Horizon League on notice with arguably his best game of his young career, scoring 16 points and eight rebounds in what can only be described as a breakout performance.

Freshman guard Nick Daniels also played well with 14 points and two assists. 

He made a key three pointer near the end of the second half to put the Grizzlies up, 71-68, though Valparaiso would force overtime with a late three.

The overtime period was all Oakland, with several Valpo players fouling out, putting the Grizzlies on the free throw line. Oakland shot 41 free throws overall; Valparaiso shot just 12.

The victory broke a five-game losing streak for Oakland and raised its overall record to 5-10.

After the game, head coach Greg Kampe said he was impressed with the youth on his team.

“Last year we talked about our team and losing four players,” Kampe said. “Nick Daniels and Jalen Hayes should’ve played last year but they were injured. Think we would’ve been a little better with them?”

Kampe played both freshmen in crunch time along with his sophomore point guard and seniors Petros and Dante Williams.

Valparaiso, which came into the game with a 13-2 record, was lead by guard Tevonn Walker with 22 points and two assists. Keith Carter added 18 points and three assists.

Preseason All-Horizon League selection Alec Peters was held to just 3-11 from the floor and was limited to just 10 points, partially due to the blanketing defense played by  Williams.

Oakland will play at Cleveland State Thursday before the big “Metro Series” game against at 3 p.m. Saturday at the University of Detroit.