Men’s basketball: Eliminated the hard way


Senior Reporter

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — It was the championship game from a typical dramatic sports movie: A team wins the championship at the buzzer. Tuesday night, OU was the team that watched as that last-second shot swished through the net and the North Dakota State University Bison won 66-64.

With less then 10 seconds left and the game tied, North Dakota State guard, and Summit League player of the year, Ben Woodside carried the ball down the court and with his eye on the basket, he pulled up at the top of the key and a nailed a long two for the game winning shot to defeat the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies for the Summit League Championship.

After the game, OU head coach Greg Kampe attributed the loss to their 32 percent second half field goal percentage, as the team only hit 8 of 25 shots after a first half in which they scored 43 points on 20-32 shooting.

“I was asked last night, ‘How does your team lose?’ Field goal percentage. Look at the second half. We played 36 outstanding minutes, and down the stretch we played like a very young team,” Kampe said.

As the NDSU defense gave them no room to move, OU faltered under the pressure. Mental mistakes near the end of the game hurt OU’s chances. With three minutes left and the team up by one, a bounce pass by freshman Blake Cushingberry rolled out of bounds, amidst a 13-2 Bison run, allowing them to drain a three to take the lead with 1:27 left.

Kampe said the missed pass was the difference in the game.

Sophomore Keith Benson made a dunk to tie it moments later, with 11 seconds left, but ultimately it was North Dakota’s night. Benson finished the game with a double-double, compiling 14 points and 14 rebounds, but he was held to only four of those points in the second half as ND came out focused on taking out the bigs down low.

OU senior guard Erik Kangas said he gave North Dakota credit for clogging up the lanes, for keeping the ball away from the paint.

“You have to give them credit on defense,” Kangas said. “We just didn’t step up and hit shots when we needed them the most.”

Benson’s frontcourt partner, forward Will Hudson, finished with 16, 10 of those in OU’s dominant first half. The two big men joined Kangas and point guard Johnathon Jones in double figures.

Kangas was reflective about his career after the heart-breaking loss. This is the second time he’s experienced a buzzer-beater loss in his OU career.

“Second time this has happened to me, that’s it, I don’t get another chance,” Kangas said.

Kampe said the pressure to win the Summit League is something that has been built within his players for their whole lives, and that pressure attributed to their mistakes at the end.

“Spending your whole life wanting to go to the NCAA tournament, and it’s a ton of pressure. We dominated the game for 35 minutes, but we didn’t win. Can’t attribute it to any one thing, a lot of their players made mistakes too, it’s just the nature of game, that’s basketball.”