Golden Grizzlies get weary IPFW in Summit League semis
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Oakland men finally learned their opponent for Monday's semifinal late Sunday night, as fifth-seeded IPFW knocked off South Dakota State in a 71-66 battle.
The Grizzlies get what is likely a weakened Mastodons team less than 24 hours after their quarterfinal game ended. Conversely, Oakland spent its Sunday up in the stands watching the dogfight.
"Having this day off really helped us. We had a couple people that were banged up, so it's going to help us out a lot," senior point guard Johnathon Jones said. "I remember playing three games in a row last year, it gets to year toward the second half. Hopefully, we can keep throwing fresh bodies at them and wear them out."
At his postgame press conference, IPFW coach Dane Fife downplayed the fact his team would be hitting the hardwood so soon after its victory.
"They play with sprained ankles, they play with broken fingers. They play with all kinds of injuries, so a little tired legs won't bother these guys," he said. "The main thing is focus, because we can't beat Oakland if we make mistakes."
South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy thinks the Grizzlies will have an advantage thanks to Sunday's battle.
"Oakland should benefit from this game, because these two teams just beat each other up," he said.
Oakland picked up its first win of its remarkable conference season back in December at IPFW and held on as a last-second heave grazed the rim to escape with a season-ending win at the O'Rena little more than a week ago.
"Last time, it was a close game toward the end, but if we keep (Keith) Benson out of foul trouble, he had 32 that game and really dominated the paint, so we know we have to go inside-out and establish a presence on the inside," Jones said.
"We know they're going to try and have something planned for Kito, so we're ready for that."
The game is at 7 p.m. and broadcast on FSN Detroit and can be heard on WDFN-AM (1130).