Golden Grizzlies making a living (or killing) at the free-throw line
Oakland has taken at least 21 free-throw attempts in each of its games in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Their opponents have taken 27 attempts — combined. Fourteen of those came from Bowling Green in the first-round game.
Oakland was 25 of 34 from the line in Tuesday’s 77-70 win over Rice. The Owls were 7 of 9 from the free-throw line after Buffalo was just 2 of 4 in the second round. Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon wasn’t shy about disputing the officiating.
“We shoot a lot more free throws than our opponents,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe acknowledged Tuesday, and it’s likely due to the fact Oakland drives to the basket with reckless abandon in its dribble-drive offense.
“It’s an every game thing,” Kampe said of Reggie Hamilton in particular, who was 14 of 14 and has taken the most free-throw attempts in the nation (288) and also has the most makes (255).
“When you have a guy who has shot 300 free throws and made 275 of them, you’re going to win close games,” Kampe said.
The Grizzlies are ninth in the nation in free-throw attempts (955) and fifth in makes (630). Their opponents have taken 632 attempts.
Oakland took a season-high 38 free throws, making 29, in an early-season win over Utah Valley. The Wolverines also found their way to the line that night, going 25 of 34.
The Grizzlies' season low was a 6-for-8 performance at Arkansas nearly two weeks earlier.
The Owls made their longest road trip of the season, more than 1,300 miles, to play Tuesday at the O’rena in the only CIT quarterfinal not held on Wednesday. Rice beat Drake Saturday evening to advance to the quarterfinals.
“Flawless” and “textbook” were used to describe the Grizzlies’ first half, in which they went up by as many as 19 and carried an 18-point advantage into halftime. The travel could have also been a factor, but Rice coach Ben Braun stopped short blaming the turnaround time.
“We’re not going to use that as an alibi, (but) it affected our first half,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of prep time. And at this stage of the season, you don’t need that. It was a tough turnaround.”
Whatever they lacked in the first half, the Owls rediscovered in the second. Rice outscored Oakland, 40-29, after opening on an 8-1 run. They cut the lead to just three, but couldn’t get any closer. Braun credited his team’s depth to wearing down Oakland, which only called on its reserves for 20 minutes.
“We were the dominant team in the second half,” Braun said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Now, it’s Oakland’s turn to travel. After a season full of sky miles, the Golden Grizzlies are “95 percent certain,” again Greg Kampe’s words, to be on the road for the semifinals of the CIT after hosting the first three rounds.