'Darth Bader' returns to the dark side
South Dakota State's Nate Wolters had 21 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, and while he still garnered some praise, Oakland's Travis Bader was the toast of the town after leading the Golden Grizzlies' to victory behind a career-high 37 points and a school-record 10 3s.
“At six, I was like ‘I’m taking a lot of 3s right now,’ " Bader said. "But I was just focused on trying to get this win. I heard the crowd chanting my name at the end and Corey Petros came up and hugged me.”
Bader was 10 of 14 from 3-point range, tying for the most 3s made in the nation this season. Dec. 1 against South Dakota, Bader achieved his previous career high, 28 points, as well as his previous high of eight 3s. Following that game, Bader reached the 20-point plateau just once in conference play (21 vs. IPFW Jan. 14) before Thursday.
It should be noted this production came when leading scorer Reggie Hamilton was struggling, as he had just two first-half points.
“We have a lot of great players on our team," Bader's good friend Drew Valentine said. "That’s one of the strengths coming into this year was our depth and how many guys on our team can makes shots.
“It just shows we don’t have to count on Reggie every night to win games. We can win when other guys step up.”
Whereas Bader hit three 3s in the first 1:30 against South Dakota, it was the Jackrabbits' Jordan Dykstra who hit the game's first 3s in the first 3:39 Thursday. Bader hit his first 3 with 13:39 to play in the first half and had back-to-back 3s to open the second half, getting a third for the period with 15:46 to play.
Oakland has made at least 14 3s in three of the past four games. The Grizzlies made a season-high 15 in a loss at Oral Roberts last weekend.
The Grizzlies hit just four 3s besides Bader, who moved into eighth place on Oakland's all-time list of 3-point shooters with eight regular-season games remaining in just his second season.
The career night earned Bader mentions from CBS' Eye on College Basketball for showing up Wolters and he was also noted in ESPN's Thursday recap of stars off the bench, noting his performance is the best of any reserve this season.