It was an impressive streak. Just over 4 years. That’s over 1000 days. It took until the 4th game of the series this year, which probably should not have been happening anyway as playing 4 times in a season is just unheard of. Asking a rivalry to do it is even worse.
Detroit Mercy FINALLY beat Oakland University in a basketball game.
Earlier in the season, Oakland escaped twice from Calihan Hall with victories. That was the series that wasn’t originally scheduled. The Horizon League, who is admittedly just trying to figure everything out during a pandemic just like everyone else, decided to keep the originally scheduled series at the O’rena and just have the two teams play twice.
The 3rd game of the series started much like every game in the OU/UDM series since Oakland joined the league. Oakland was dominating and up BIG. Oakland found themselves up 25 at the half. Detroit Mercy was getting nothing from anyone not named Antoine Davis.
Foul trouble was plaguing many of the Titans including Noah Waterman who they really needed to help break OU’s zone defense. The zone defense just stalled UDM, often ending with the ball in a big’s hands at the top of the key, but them unable to do anything with it. They were simply uncomfortable. At the break, Oakland Coach Greg Kampe warned his team that the Titans would come back.
And he was right.
On the backs of Davis and Dwayne Rose, Jr., the Titans got the lead down to 1 with only 18 seconds left on the clock. The wind had long been out of the sails of the Grizzlies, despite a breakout game from Zion Young who went 9-9 from 3 on his way to 28 points. A bad inbound from OU led to a lucky bounce, and the ball ended up in Kevin Kangu’s hands. He then did what seniors are expected to do and nailed some clutch free throws.
After the game Kampe was pleased. That’s usually how someone feels after beating a rival for the 15th time in 17 meetings. The blown lead didn’t bother him as he expected UDM to storm back. His analysis was that UDM turned it into a pickup basketball game, and they were way more talented in that style of game. His fear was that some of that momentum would carry over to the next night when his team was tasked with the near impossible task of beating a team a 4th time.
The next night, the Davis family finally got their elusive first win over Oakland.
There are a lot of people to credit for Detroit Mercy’s win. It should all start with coach Mike Davis. His starting 5 on Saturday looked a lot different. His rotation looked a lot different. He wanted to reward the guys that played well in the loss on Friday. Those guys helped to deliver the win.
While Antoine was big with 27 points, Rose, Jr. chipping in 16 was just as big. Rose Jr. was one of the players rewarded for their effort and continuing it into the second game will likely get him rewarded further going forward. Noah Waterman was also a big contributor as he avoided foul trouble while chipping in 18. I haven’t bought a lot of the Waterman hype from UDM people, but it’s easy to see what they’re excited about with him. Koka did not play in the second game. Davis said it’s a conditioning thing and they need to get him back to speed. Whatever the reason, it was the right decision at the right time.
So what does it all mean for both of these teams going forward? Really, not a lot. Oakland beating UDM for a 4th time on the year was not likely. That they made a game of it and had a chance until the end was commendable. Many of their wins have been because they’re the better coached team, but on Saturday, Davis took his turn to be the better coach.
While both coaches are fiery personalities on the sideline, it was Kampe this time who was given a late technical and sealed the game for his opponent. He admitted while he didn’t think it should have been technical worthy, he’s not even sure he swore, that he shouldn’t have put his team in that situation. Oakland should feel confident about who they are and what they have to do to win going forward. Rashad Williams hitting some threes in the second game was a good sign for Oakland fans, and if they can put all the pieces together on a given night they are a scary team.
For Detroit Mercy, they’re still figuring out who they are. They have talent, they have speed, they have size, and they have a coach with a proven record of winning… at least at other places. To not think that Mike Davis won’t put it together at UDM would be foolish. It’s just a race against the clock for this season to see if they can figure out who they are and be that consistently. They showed, finally in that 4th game, that they can beat Oakland and put together a great game.
As of this writing, it has been 2 days since OU last beat UDM. The Titans have a long way to go to match OU’s last streak or to start chipping away at the 15-3 head to head record since OU joined the league. Let’s just hope these two teams aren’t asked to slug it out yet again in a 5th game of the season. Both coaches, teams and fan bases deserve a break.