Second-half comeback fuels Grizzly senior day victory

Jake Alsko

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Oakland University women’s basketball (12-15, 7-7 Horizon) outscored Cleveland State 52-34 to win its final regular season home game, 81-71, Thursday night in the O’rena.

The Golden Grizzlies mounted their largest comeback of the season (14 points) to secure their Senior Day victory over the Vikings (13-14, 8-6).

“Obviously it’s a great win for our team and a great win for our seniors,” OU head coach Jeff Tungate said. “It’s really nice to see them leave on senior night with a victory.”

Oakland played poorly in the first half, particularly in the paint, but the team turned it around in the second.

“In the first half I thought we played like it senior night, we were very nervous, missed a lot of open shots and didn’t do a great job defensively the first ten minutes,” Tungate said. “After we settled down, started just playing … it was great to us respond the way we did.”

OU held CSU to just 32 percent shooting in the second half and 37 percent for the game. The Golden Grizzlies also outrebounded the Vikings 51-36.

Sophomore guard Elena Popkey and senior forward Bethany Watterworth led the way for Oakland, with both finishing with double-doubles.

Popkey had 22 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Sixteen of Popkey’s points came in the second half and her 12 rebounds tied a career-high.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Oakland, and they know something needs to change if they want to prolong their season.

“We’ve got to become a more consistent team,” Tungate said. “We’ve got to put two halves together if we want to do anything in the conference tournament.”

Oakland’s regular season comes to an end in Wisconsin next week, with the team taking on Green Bay on March 6 at 8 p.m. and Milwaukee on March 8 at 3 p.m.