The Oakland University men’s basketball team (12-13, 7-4 Summit) held on to defeat the Summit League leading North Dakota State University (18-6, 9-3 Summit) 66-63 in front of a raucus crowd at the O’rena Thursday night.
Riding a 17 game home winning streak in February, the win was the second straight win against one of three conference leaders in Western Illinois last home game helping the Golden Grizzlies improve to 7-4 in Summit League play.
Junior guard Duke Mondy scored the go-ahead bucket on a jumper in the paint with 22 seconds remaining in regulation. Mondy then sealed the deal on two free throws to put the Golden Grizzlies up for good, finishing with 16 points and five rebounds.
“I just tried to show confidence down the stretch in a crucial spot where my team needed me most,” Mondy said.
Junior guard Travis Bader finished with 23 points. He hit five 3-pointers, including two towards the end of the first half that sparked OU to a 35-26 lead to close the period against a physical NDSU team.
“I got off to a slow start and coach told me to keep shooting,” Bader said. “After I hit a couple and it got the team going, I found my rhythm.”
The unsung catalyst for the late first period surge came from junior reserve forward Joey Asbury who entered the game at the 14:33 mark in the period and provided a physical prescence for OU on defense.
That physical play by both teams made for a tough game to call for the referees with several calls going both ways, much to the displeasure of the home crowd.
“I thought Joey played a man’s game out there on defense,” head coach Greg Kampe said. “He was the reason we gained the lead with his hustle and physicality. He’s going to get more playing time because of it.”
The Golden Grizzlies gained their biggest lead to start the second half on a 3-pointer from the right corner by junior guard Ryan Bass to make it 39-29 with 18:10 to play.
The visiting team stayed close and chipped away at Oakland’s lead by regaining control on a jumper from the wing by NDSU forward Brent Vandenburgh to go up 45-44 with 13:33 remaining.
The teams went back and forth exchanging baskets down the stretch with OU going back up six points with 11:21 remaining before NDSU fought back to make keep the score within three.
“They fought their butts off out there tonight and made it really difficult to get into a comfort zone,” Kampe said.
After allowing the Bison to make the game close down the stretch, the Golden Grizzlies locked down the last four minutes on defense. Oakland played efficient on offense, only committing six turnovers in the contest.
“It came down to execution for us on both ends and we just needed to take our time with our decision-making to make the plays necessary,” Kampe said.
With the conference win, OU moves within a game and a half of first place in the Summit League with South Dakota State University up next. SDSU is led by guard Nate Wolters, who broke Travis Bader’s Summit League record for points by dropping 53 on Thursday night.
Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday evening at 5 p.m. at the O’rena.
Contact Staff Reporter Allen Jordan at [email protected] or @aj1218 on Twitter.