Golden Grizzlies wrap up Summit League championship vs. NDSU

By Dan Fenner

The Oakland University men’s basketball team defeated North Dakota State Saturday evening to win the outright Summit League championship for the first time in a decade. Following the 88-81 victory, members of the team and the OU athletics community took turns in cutting down the basketball nets before 3,000 cheering fans at the O’Rena.

Seniors Derick Nelson and Johnathon Jones shined as they rallied the team from a six-point halftime deficit.

“I don’t know what the reason was, but I don’t think we were ready to play,” OU head coach Greg Kampe said. “It took us a half for us to understand that nothing is given to us. I can’t tell you, in all my years, that I’ve ever had two seniors want to do something so badly, and take it upon themselves to get it done. I’m so proud of them.”

Oakland grabbed an early first half lead and was up by as many as eight points before NDSU made a comeback.

The Bison claimed the lead with 4:25 remaining in the half when junior forward Michael Tveidt drove the lame and converted a layup.

At the half, the Grizzlies trailed 41-35.

“Well the last couple of games we haven’t really started out well. I don’t know what it is but we have to fix it and correct it because in the tournament we can’t wait until the second half to start our game,” Jones said.

But Oakland quickly reversed the momentum behind a Jones scoring-spree in which he had nine points in just over two minutes of play, including a pair of consecutive 3-pointers midway through the second half.

OU was able to put the game out of reach for good when Keith Benson converted an old-fashioned three-point play with just over a minute remaining.

As if the game needed it, Nelson capped off the game with a slam dunk in the final seconds.

Oakland will close out its regular season next Saturday when it will host IPFW in a rematch of an 84-76 win on Dec. 5.

The Summit League Tournament will begin March 6 with Oakland as the favorite to win and capture an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“Do I feel good about our team going into the tournament? Yes. Am I scared? I’m always scared. I was scared tonight,” Kampe said.”