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Oakland emerges victorious in a ferocious game at the O’Rena against defending Horizon League Tournament champion Wright State. The final score was 75-68, in a turn of events from how the majority of the game played out.
Oakland came into this game off a rough outing against crosstown rival Detroit Mercy, in which the visiting Titans nearly eclipsed the 100-point marker. Superstar Antoine Davis, who was neutralized by the Golden Grizzlies in the reverse contest in Detroit, made some spectacular plays and converted on tough shots to run away from the Grizzlies.
The O’Rena’s eyes were on Wright State’s superstar Trey Calvin, who many expected to duplicate Davis’ success against the Grizzlies. The Golden Grizzlies found a way to hold Calvin to just six points, forcing him to take bad shots, go 30% from the field, and blank from beyond the arc. Freshman Brandon Noel, who is Wright State’s premier big man, took the reigns from Calvin and gave the Grizzlies grief in the paint. Noel scored an impressive 24 points and totaled ten rebounds for a double-double. Alex Huibregtse took charge from the three-point territory, scoring 9 of his 15 points from beyond the arc.
The Raiders led for most of the contest. They survived a six-point stretch from Jalen Moore to hold the Grizzlies scoreless for 2 minutes and extend their lead to 10, the score being 18-8 with 13:01 to go in the first half. Oakland matched Wright State’s hot offense with some of their own, and never let the lead get out of hand. Unfortunately, both offenses cooled, with no team scoring for two minutes. Oakland clawed back in the last three minutes to bring the halftime lead to just two.
Oakland and Wright State exchanged blows to open the second-half action, every Oakland basket being met with a Wright State one. Wright State’s offense caught fire at the 10:35 mark and the defense was able to stifle the desperate threes by Oakland to take a seven-point lead. Oakland’s only score in that time was a three by Osei Price to make it 55-50. Oakland went on a three-and-a-half-minute 9-2 run to even the score 59-59 with 4:47 to go. A Jalen Moore free throw gave Oakland a lead they did not relinquish the rest of the game. Wright State found holes in Oakland’s offense to score 9 more points, but Oakland’s offense was surprisingly relentless, and did not allow the defensive woes to snuff out their offensive fire.
Oakland’s most impressive feat of the night was their out-rebounding of Wright State, who is the top rebounding team in the Horizon League. Raider head coach Scott Nagy professes rebounds in practices, and makes them a consistently vital aspect of their success. Oakland, who had been notoriously struggling to rebound, found a way to play physical and gain offensive rebounds, many of which in transition.
Oakland’s leading scorer was none other than Jalen Moore, who totaled a 34-piece with a side of 9 rebounds and six assists. Forward Keaton Hervey continues to show why he is Oakland’s glue guy, garnering 17 points of his own and totaling 9 rebounds at the end of the contest. Hervey seemed on the precipice of a double-double, but did not get that last pesky rebound.
Wright State will look to snap their three-game losing streak in Detroit as they have their turn at Antoine Davis and the Titans. Meanwhile, Oakland will look to win back-to-back and sweep the series against the Northern Kentucky Norse.
Tune into 88.3 FM WXOU to listen to the call from Oakland Basketball’s season finale on Saturday, February 25th.