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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oakland bends, but doesn’t break during second half Rice run

There aren’t too many teams that could withstand the first half Oakland had, but as coach Greg Kampe said, he knew Rice was going to make a run, that’s just what teams good enough to hail from Conference USA are capable of. But with the leads Oakland has lost this season, even Tuesday’s 18-point halftime advantage didn’t seem safe.
“You get some of that on your mind,” Kampe said. “But what I tried to do on that run was rest Reggie. I knew we just had to be one point ahead when it was over. There’s no style points.”
The Owls made an 8-1 surge to start the half and come within nine points with 17 minutes to play. The deficit stayed at a similar range until Rice came within six with 11:30 to play. Six straight points from Reggie Hamilton, and Oakland was back ahead by 12 with 10 minutes to go.
“Coach Kampe told us in the locker room they’re going to make their run,” Hamilton said. “Unfortunately, their run was too good. We held it together and players made plays.”
Then the Owls get within three and Drew Valentine misses a pair of free throws. (Where have you seen this before?) The Grizzlies begin splitting at the line, except when Hamilton steps up. He was 14 for 14 Tuesday. Their defense stepped up, too, clamping down and getting stops around the two-minute mark.
All the while, Kampe held on to his timeouts until the bitter end.
“I hear it all the time that I’m going to take all those timeouts to my grave, but I just don’t believe in them,” he said. “My players are good enough to stop runs. There’s a media timeout every four minutes. Every once in a while I’ll use one to stop a run, but I’m not big into that. Those timeouts are critical at the end of the game, especially with our deficiencies and our youth.
“We were able to use all those timeouts to make personnel changes and I’m not going to say we won because of that, but it was a benefit to have that.”
And with the win, Oakland becomes the first Summit League team to win three postseason games in the same season.
Bench coming up short
Laval Lucas-Perry’s free throw make was the only point scored by Oakland’s bench, which was outscored, 26-1. The Grizzlies’ reserves were outscored, 34-0, in Saturday’s win over Buffalo, but did outscore Bowling Green, 17-7.
Much of the bench scoring throughout the season came from Travis Bader, who has started the past six games.
“It’s win time,” Kampe said. “Our top five players are starting and you only need five out there. I know Laval can get 20 any night, so it could happen.”
Gray Day
Oakland got back over .500 when wearing the alternate gray uniforms they designate for big games. The Grizzlies are now 3-2 after wearing them during the Homecoming loss Jan. 28. They’ve also worn them in wins over Tennessee and IUPUI, which snapped a six-game losing streak. They’ve won the alternates in the aforementioned loss to North Dakota State as well as against Michigan at The Palace.

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