Calhoun’s 28 points are not enough, as Grizzlies fall to Oral Roberts in 2OT

Whether they considered it or not, Monday night’s game against first-place Oral Roberts served as a measuring stick game for the Golden Grizzlies.

After a double-overtime, 80-72 loss to the Golden Eagles, Oakland’s standing in the Summit League became a little clearer.

Junior guard Sharise Calhoun scored a career-high 28 points on 12-of-23 shooting, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor first half of play.

Calhoun added six rebounds and three assists, but committed seven turnovers. She drew the tough task of guarding ORU’s player of the year frontrunner, sophomore Kevi Luper, who scored 36 points.

“(Luper’s) a great player,” Calhoun said. “You play your best defense and she still hits big shots. She’s just one of those players where she’s just a good shooter.”

The Golden Grizzlies (14-8, 8-3) had gained sole possession of second place in the Summit League standings with a resounding 100-36 victory over Centenary on Saturday, but Monday’s loss drops the team back into a tie with IPFW. Oral Roberts maintained its unblemished 11-0 Summit League record.

OU struggled offensively in the first half, which allowed Oral Roberts to build an early lead. The Grizzlies shot just over 24 percent from the field in the first half and only 32.5 percent for the game.

Despite trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half, OU stormed back in the second half to force overtime.

A second extra five-minute session became necessary when Calhoun hit a jump shot and subsequent free throw to knot the game up once more.

An offensive foul call negated what would have been a go-ahead basket in the second overtime, and the game got away from the Grizzlies from there.

Oakland coach Beckie Francis said she was proud of the resiliency the team displayed.

“I just told the team in the locker room that I was really proud of their mental toughness,” Francis said. “I think that we improved from the last time we played (ORU), and were more aggressive in the second half, and now we just need to do that for a whole game.”

Francis said the second-half surge was due in part to the rebounding efforts of junior Brittany Carnago and freshman Zakiya Minifee.

Carnago scored 11 points to go along with 14 rebounds and three blocks, despite playing with four fouls for almost 20 minutes.

“I thought that was the best game I’ve ever seen Brittany Carnago play,” Francis said. “She got some big rebounds and scored some really big baskets at the end. We just needed to get her the ball more.”

Minifee had 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks while playing 45 minutes.

Sophomore Bethany Watterworth, the team’s typical leading scorer, managed to  score 13 points, but struggled from the field, making just three field goals. She did tally nine assists and four rebounds, however.

“At first, I was just kind of shooting a lot of outside jumpers,” Watterworth said. “Even as a team, in the first half, we shot a lot of three-pointers. In the second half, we had a different mentality. We were a lot more aggressive and we were really relaxed.”

The loss was just the second for Oakland at home this season, with both defeats coming in overtime.

The Grizzlies will return to action on Saturday to face IUPUI.