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Men's Basketball Return De-Clawing with 100-95 Shootout Win vs. Milwaukee

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Play-by-Play: Gavin Smilowski

Color: Jacob Virostick

Sideline Reporter: Kaylah Snell

Studio: Harjun Buttar

The Oakland Golden Grizzlies take care of business in their first home game of 2024 against the visiting Milwaukee Panthers. The final score was 100-95. 

Oakland came into this game off a five-game road stretch that included stops at Michigan State, Dayton, and Cleveland State.

They started off the road trip against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, and took a win in Ypsi, but the tides turned early against the Golden Grizzlies in both of their next two games.

Michigan State opened up the second half shooting exceptional and played physical with Power 5 athletes. Dayton took advantage of Oakland’s coverage in the paint to get good looks from three.

The Cleveland State Vikings were the next stop, where Oakland was on the verge of getting blown out of the Wolstein Center to begin the second half, but made Cleveland State’s life miserable and cut the deficit down.

Their efforts weren’t enough to take the win, but they came into the Beeghly Center in Youngstown and took down the defending Horizon League Regular Season Champion Penguins 88-81.

Milwaukee came into this game off a four-game homestand with Horizon League wins against Robert Morris and Wright State. They are a different team from the last time Oakland played against them.

Milwaukee head coach Bart Lundy has been left picking up the pieces after the departures of Vin Baker Jr. and Ahmad Rand, and with BJ Freeman coming back from an injury playing limited minutes.

This is the first look Oakland has against the “Brand-New Panthers”. The last matchup between these two squads was an overtime heartbreaker with Oakland giving up a sizeable lead and going cold from the field at the wrong time. 

Milwaukee came charging out of the gate, up 9-4 at the first media timeout. Oakland’s Trey Townsend went to work in the paint and got the deficit down to 2, with Tone Hunter burying the 11-11 equalizer.

After the last two Horizon League games, fans wanted to see more of Tuburu Naivalurua, and so they did with Naivalurua making buckets early and often, including the bucket that gave Oakland a very early lead that they did not relinquish. 

From there, it was clear that Milwaukee was not going away easily. They allowed Oakland to get high-single-digit leads, but came clawing back, mixing three-pointers with dribble drives and sprinkling free throws in every now and then.

It was also clear that this game was extremely physical and both teams started to go to the line closing out the first half. The score at half was 40-35 in favor of the Golden Grizzlies.

The second half opened to the same as the end of the first. Oakland caught Milwaukee’s defense hemming and hawing to get sizeable leads, and then would go cold and allow the Panthers to find transition points to reduce the lead.

At 12:55 in the second half, Naivalurua and Milwaukee’s Kentrell Pullian got into a notably intense shouting match following some rough-and-tumble actions by Naivalurua. Pullian was assessed a technical foul, and Naivalurua was assessed a flagrant I foul.

This begun a series of points made exclusively from the free-throw line and for three minutes, neither team scored points in any other way.

Milwaukee began to shoot more efficiently (perhaps due to Oakland’s hesitancy to get players in foul trouble too early) but Oakland continued to find ways to give life to their offense. 

This marked the first time Oakland scored 100 points since January of 2022, when the team scored 104 against UM-Dearborn, and marked Oakland’s third Horizon League win. They will play the Green Bay Phoenix at the O’Rena on Saturday, January 6th at 3pm. 

Meanwhile, Milwaukee drops to 2-2 in conference play, and will look to get back on track against the Detroit Mercy Titans on Saturday, January 6th, at 12pm.



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