Game two was just as good of a game as the first one, as the Oakland Golden Grizzlies defeated the Detroit Titans 83-82 in an overtime thriller.
With 8.8 seconds left in the overtime period, Oakland’s senior guard Duke Mondy hit a jumper in the lane to give the Golden Grizzlies the 83-82 lead. Juwan Howard Jr’s last second heave was off the backboard as the red light turned on.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record but like I said earlier, I got ice in my veins,” said Mondy. “I wasn’t thinking, I was just playing ball and it went in.”
Leading the way for both squads were there respectful stars, Oakland’s Travis Bader and Detroit’s Juwan Howard Jr. Bader led the Golden Grizzlies with 30 points on 8-17 shooting while Howard Jr. had 33 points in the losing effort in front of the largest crowd (4,065) in the O’rena’s history, providing an electric atmosphere.
“Insane,” said Bader, a redshirt senior, describing the atmosphere in the arena. “I think that was one of the best games I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here.”
Oakland’s head coach Greg Kampe was very pleased with Bader.
“Bader, was Bader,” said Kampe, in his 30th season at Oakland University. “He is something special and the great thing about having a full house and all that is those people got to see it.”
For Howard Jr., he was upset with himself after the emotional loss.
“To be a good player you have to play at both ends. I let my team down by not fighting through those screens and fighting on defense like I did on offense,” said Howard Jr. “I wish I could get back at it.”
UDM’s head coach Ray McCallum explained what he wanted to have happened on the last play in overtime.
“We wanted to put the ball in the hands of our horse,” said McCallum. “It was who got the last shot pretty much. We put Juwan in a tough situation. He played his guts out. We trust that Juwan can make a play by either getting a shot or finding a teammate.”
With the win, Oakland moved to a tie for sixth place with the Titans after the victory. However, to Kampe, defensive stops were the biggest difference in the contest.
“Tonight, with the game on the line in regulation, we got the stop,” said Kampe. “Then with the game on the line in overtime, with 8.8 seconds, I don’t know if you would consider that a shot or not.”
Also having a huge impact on the game was Gold Grizzlies freshman point guard Kahlil Felder, who recorded a triple-double with 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
In the losing effort the next leading scorer for the Titans was freshman Matthew Grant who ended the night with 10 points, all coming in the 2nd half.
With the loss, the Titans were swept by the Golden Grizzlies in their first season in the conference.
“Disappointing for us,” said McCallum. “We had hopes of going .500 in the conference today.. Heckuva an effort by both teams.”
It was a great game by both teams but the Titans came up short.
A few observations I would like to point out from Friday’s game:
1. Juwan Howard Jr,. should be a legit candidate for Horizon League player of the year. Although he more and likely will not get it because the Titans are only 5-7 in conference but should earn some votes.
2. Oakland will be a very tough out come Horizon League tournament time. I think if Felder keeps improving and growing, watch out.
3. The first two games between two teams have been nothing but awesome. The fact it took them 11 years to play again only hurt the basketball fans at both schools. It is great for the state to have another rivalry in college basketball.
This was one of the best college basketball games I have ever been a part of. Hopefully, they will all be this good.