Women’s basketball wins fourth straight against IPFW

Kahlaijah+Dean+led+the+Golden+Grizzlies+in+points%2C+rebounds+and+assists+in+the+win+against+the+Mastodons.

Photo Courtesy of OU Athletics

Kahlaijah Dean led the Golden Grizzlies in points, rebounds and assists in the win against the Mastodons.

Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

On a three game win streak, the women’s basketball team looked to improve upon their 7-4 conference record against the Purdue University Fort Wayne Mastodons on Saturday, Jan. 23. 

On the second day of the back-to-back format, the Golden Grizzlies once again pulled away in the fourth quarter, defeating the Mastodons 73-61 on the strength of Kahlaijah Dean’s near triple-double.

In the first game of the series against the Horizon League newcomers, the Golden Grizzlies pulled away late to win a low-scoring game, 58-49. Dean led the way for Oakland with 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

“She willed us to wins this weekend,” Head Coach Jeff Tungate said. “A lot of times you see players take over and they only do it from a scoring aspect, but she does it not just with scoring — she gets her teammates involved as well.”

That win was their seventh in the Horizon League, exceeding their conference win total from the entire 2019-2020 season. 

Turnovers and second chance buckets plagued the Golden Grizzlies’ first quarter on Saturday. Despite being 0-11 in the conference, the Mastodons came out of the gate strong, grabbing seemingly every rebound. 

After the first quarter the Mastodons had a 19-12 lead and a 10-4 rebound advantage, with four offensive rebounds. Autumn Kissman and Breanne Beatty led the way for Oakland in the first with four points each.

An arena clock error with four minutes remaining forced an almost 20-minute timeout for both sides. Purdue Fort Wayne led by nine, but in the following four minutes after the lengthy break, Oakland hit four of their last six shots. 

“Unfortunately with technology, those things can happen at any time,” Tungate said. “I do think there was a chance for us to kind of just regroup, calm ourselves down and realize that we had to get back to playing the way we’re capable of. Our players did a really good job of regrouping and coming back out.”

The difference in the first half was the 3-pointer. Oakland missed all five of their threes in the first half, while the Mastodons hit 6-11 of their 3-pointers. The Golden Grizzlies cut the deficit to six before the halftime buzzer sounded, trailing 34-28.

“In the first half we didn’t do a good job of matching Fort Wayne’s intensity,” Tungate said. “But it’s a great sign that our team can win those games and find a way to win.”

Both teams battled back-and-forth throughout the third quarter, with Purdue Fort Wayne steadily maintaining their lead. After a media timeout with about four minutes remaining, Oakland started pressing more and getting transition looks, clawing their way back. The bench was energized after halftime, and the rest of the team turned up the intensity to match it.

Over a 49-second span, Oakland turned an eight-point deficit into just two. Dean led the way with six points and three assists in the third, including a game-tying layup as the third quarter ended. She would finish the game with 21 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists.

With the score tied, the fourth quarter brought 10 non-stop minutes of intense basketball. The energy the Golden Grizzlies came out of halftime with carried over, outsourcing the Mastodons 27-15 in the fourth. 

From the start of the fourth, Oakland controlled the pace and never gave the lead back. A 17-3 run over a six minute span proved to be the difference in Oakland’s eighth win of the season

Dean and Chloe Guingrich put the team on their backs offensively to complement the team’s defensive effort in the final ten minutes. The duo scored 18 points combined in the fourth.

The Golden Grizzlies next game will be in Cleveland on Friday, Jan. 29 against the Cleveland State University Vikings, who currently sit at 3-9 in Horizon League play. 

The next home series for the Golden Grizzlies will begin Feb. 5 against another newcomer to the Horizon, Robert Morris University.

“We’ve got a key four weeks left in the season to hopefully position ourselves to host a quarterfinal game,” Tungate said.