Oakland defeats UIC on women and girls in sports night

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Oakland defeats UIC on women and girls in sports night

Women’s basketball defeats UIC 63-46 on Thursday, Feb. 6, a night to honor women and girls in sports.

Women’s basketball defeats UIC 63-46 on Thursday, Feb. 6, a night to honor women and girls in sports.

Sophie Hume

Women’s basketball defeats UIC 63-46 on Thursday, Feb. 6, a night to honor women and girls in sports.

Sophie Hume

Sophie Hume

Women’s basketball defeats UIC 63-46 on Thursday, Feb. 6, a night to honor women and girls in sports.

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

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Five days after defeating the University of Detroit Mercy on their home court, the Oakland University women’s basketball team hosted another inter-conference battle Thursday, Feb. 6, against a team that defeated them earlier in the season, the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Flames.

Early in the conference season, the Flames defeated the Golden Grizzlies in overtime, 70-64. On their home court this time, Oakland defeated UIC, 63-46.

“We lost to them a couple of months ago, and we needed to show them that we could win,” freshman Alona Blackwell said. “We made a statement.”

On a night that honored women and girls in sports, the Oakland women led from start to finish.

“It’s a great day — it’s great for our young fans to see what they could possibly be one day,” acting Head Coach Ke’Sha Blanton said. “I think our girls are great role models, so it means a lot to get a win … especially with the young fans in the stands.”

Oakland jumped out to an early lead on the strength of their defense and 3-point shooting. Blackwell, who was recently named Horizon League Freshman of the Week, hit two long-range jumpers early. After her second, the Golden Grizzlies led 13-5, which prompted UIC to take a timeout.

“We just needed that energizer early,” Blackwell said. “We were all knocking shots down, we were hot. Everyone was moving the ball around.”

After the timeout the Golden Grizzlies struggled offensively, which led into the second quarter. Five minutes into the second quarter, the team scored three points. After forcing more turnovers, the team got back to the offense that got them the lead in the first, stretching their lead to at most 14, 29-15.

After one half, Blackwell led all scorers with eight points, Jalisha Terry had seven, and Kahlaijah Dean had six. The Golden Grizzlies as a whole shot 6-12 (50%) from 3-point range.

The Golden Grizzlies led 31-19 after two quarters. The defense was the difference for Oakland, they forced UIC to commit 14 turnovers.

“I’m always glad when they hustle and get steals,” Blanton said. “We’re starting to come together — and what a great time to come together.”

To start the third quarter, the Golden Grizzlies got repeated second chance looks, as they went on a 8-4 run during the first four minutes. Their lead grew to as large as 19 in the third. The 3-point shot continued to be their strength, shooting 3-5 (60%) from deep in the third.

“We told our kids to shoot the ball — they worked a lot this week on 3-point shooting and they were able to knock them down, so we’ll continue to put up shots in practice and hope that continues,” Blanton said.

The lead continually grew over the fourth quarter for the Golden Grizzlies, as UIC was unable to convert inside. The Flames had just four points after seven-and-a-half minutes of game time.

In their previous match-up Thursday, Jan. 23, the Flames scored 70 points. In Rochester, the Flames only put 46 on the board. Since the loss in January, The Golden Grizzlies have moved up to tied for sixth in the conference, while the Flames are last.

Oakland forced 25 turnovers, limited the Flames to 14% from 3-point range and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. Blackwell and Dean led the team in scoring with 11 points each.

“I think tonight shows our growth from where we were then and where we are now,” Blanton said. “It’s a great victory for our players’ mindsets as we move on.”