Brandon Rush’s performance too much to overcome, ends OU’s five-game winning streak

The Oakland men’s basketball team lost its first game of the 2023 calendar year on Saturday, Jan. 14 when it fell to Youngstown State at home, 85-69. 

Jalen Moore scored 20, but the outstanding performance of Youngstown State’s Brandon Rush was too much for the Golden Grizzlies to overcome. Rush had a 30-point afternoon on an incredible 11-16 shooting, including 7-10 from beyond the arc. 

Although it was on a five-game winning streak, Saturday’s game was extremely reminiscent to the non-conference games and early Horizon League games. Like it had in many games early on in the season, Oakland fell behind by a sizable margin quickly.

The Penguins opened up a 13-point lead over the Golden Grizzlies before 10 minutes had passed in the first half, and Oakland had set itself up to play from behind for the majority of the afternoon.

A Keaton Hervey 3-pointer cut the Youngstown State lead to five points with 7:50 to go in the first half, but the Penguins quickly retaliated and regained control of the game.

Youngstown State made four 3-pointers in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the first half as it opened up a 17-point lead over Oakland by halftime. 

The Penguins shot an astounding 9-14 from deep in the first half, and that is certainly a winning recipe. Meanwhile, Oakland shot 3-9, which isn’t a terrible mark, but there was plenty of work to do as the teams prepared for the second half. 

The Golden Grizzlies came out of halftime ready to put in that work. Blake Lampman and Moore each had dunks to open the second half, and their efforts were followed by a barrage of 3-pointers from Rocket Watts and Lampman to force a Youngstown State timeout. 

Watts’ second 3-pointer cut the Penguin lead to seven points, but from then on the Rush show began. Rush scored 19 of his 30 points in the second half, and he nearly single-handedly kept Oakland from making a potential comeback. 

All five of Oakland’s starters finished with at least nine points, but the Golden Grizzlies didn’t get a lot of help from the bench. Chris Conway and Osei Price scored four and three points, respectively, as the two were the only players to come off the bench and make scoring contributions.

Oakland will now look to get back on track as it hits the road. Next on the schedule is IUPUI on Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Luckily for Oakland, the Jaguars are, without a question, the worst team in the conference. 

IUPUI is 3-16 overall and 0-8 in the Horizon League. Its three wins so far this season have come against Franklin College, Spalding University and Texas A&M-Commerce.

In their eight Horizon League games so far this season, the Jaguars have come within 10 points of their opponent only twice. 

The matchup between the Golden Grizzlies and Jaguars is set to begin at 7 p.m on Thursday and it will air on ESPN+.