Men’s basketball outlasts conference rival UIC


Brock Heilig

Micah Parrish heads to the locker room at halftime against UIC on Jan. 29.

Brock Heilig, Sports Editor

The Oakland Golden Grizzlies men’s basketball team improved to 9-1 in the Horizon League on Saturday afternoon with a 81-74 win over the UIC Flames. 

The Grizzlies and Flames battled early, as Micah Parrish helped the Grizzlies to a 12-8 lead at the under-16-minute media timeout. Parrish — who had a pair of 3-pointers in the opening minutes — was joined by Jamal Cain [2 points], Trey Townsend [2 points] and Jalen Moore [2 points].

Oakland squandered its lead in the following minutes, but regained the four-point advantage before the under-12-minute media timeout. 

Oakland found life coming out of the timeout, as it went on a 10-0 run to extend its lead to 14. The Flames couldn’t buy a basket from the floor, going scoreless for eight straight minutes.

Despite their struggles, the Flames did not go away easily, scoring eight points in the final three minutes of the half. Ultimately, the Grizzlies hung onto a 34-29 lead at the end of the first half. 

The Grizzlies were led in scoring by Cain [14], Townsend [8] and Parrish [8]. Jalen Moore added four points of his own, in what was a half full of swings. Oakland led by as many as 14, but the Flames were able to cut the lead to five at the end of the first half.

Cain was already well on his way to yet another 20-point outing — after the game, he spoke on his mindset in the first half.

“I just try to play aggressive early,” Cain said. “Just trying to exploit that [the defense], and just trying to be aggressive and trying to get early foul calls.”

Scoring came in bunches as the second half began. Townsend notched six quick points to open the half, but UIC came out on an offensive tear with 12 points in just over three minutes to take a 41-40 lead. 

UIC could not miss to start the second half, as it scored 15 points in four minutes on 6-7 shooting from the floor — including 3-3 from distance. The Flames led 44-42 at the under-16-minute media timeout.

The two teams went back and forth in the ensuing minutes. Baskets by Parrish, Townsend and Osei Price helped the Grizzlies to a 53-51 lead at the under-12-minute media timeout.

The epic battle continued as both teams threw their best punches. Heading into the final stretch of the game, the teams were locked even at 58. 

Coming out of the under-8-minute media timeout, Cain logged five straight points to put the Grizzlies in front. Moore added a triple of his own on the next possession, and Oakland quickly found itself clinging on to a 66-60 lead. 

Oakland never looked back, holding off UIC in the game’s final minutes. The Grizzlies led by four with 33 seconds remaining, when two Jalen Moore free throws put the game out of reach for the Flames.

Cain and Townsend led the way for the Grizzlies, with 26 and 22 points, respectively. Moore added 17 points of his own, and Parrish was also in double figures with 13. 

After the game, Head Coach Greg Kampe had extremely high praise for Parrish.

“I think he’s progressed phenomenally,” Kampe said. “Micah Parrish is going to be a pro. He’s doing everything I need him to do to win.”

Oakland — now 9-1 in the Horizon League — trails league-leading Cleveland State by just half a game in the league standings. As the Grizzlies set their sights on a potential Horizon League championship, Kampe knows the road ahead will be critical for his team’s success.

“I don’t think we can lose again,” said Kampe, as it relates to winning the Horizon League championship. “We have to win them all.”

The Golden Grizzlies now set their sights on a four-game road trip, as they try to stay within striking distance of first place in the Horizon League. Oakland will travel to Northern Kentucky on Thursday, Feb. 3, and to Wright State on Saturday, Feb. 5.