It wasn’t your typical Metro Series feel inside Calihan Hall on Wednesday night. A weeknight in November was not the showcase window this game usually has, and with stars Antoine Davis and Jalen Moore in the professional ranks now, it felt like it was time for a new era of the rivalry.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and for the ninth time in a row, the Golden Grizzlies won at Detroit-Mercy.
The game started slow for Oakland. Close range looks weren’t falling early, and the offensive stars for the Golden Grizzlies were not able to get clean looks off for most of the first half.
“Coming off what happened Monday night, I’m not surprised with what happened early in this game”, said Greg Kampe.”What I’m really pleased with is how we handled it, and we played a flawless second half.”
Despite the early struggles, Oakland still held a 28-27 lead at the break. The second half the Golden Grizzlies appeared to outclass the Titans.
Oakland was able to get going a little bit offensively, led by Chris Conway who finished with 14 points. He is enjoying the best stretch of his career at the moment, and is going to be a candidate to lead the Golden Grizzlies in scoring every game the rest of the way.
Jack Gohlke was heavily guarded and didn’t force much up, but still found his way to 11 points. Where he continues to impress is on the glass. He led the team with eight rebounds on the night, and is now averaging over five boards a game.
Wednesday night was one where the depth that has been so talked about was needed, and it delivered. With Trey Townsend going 3-12, and Isaiah Jones 2-7, Buru Naivalurua had his best game of the young season. In only 13 minutes he went 5-6 from the floor, good for 11 points. He had a highlight dunk, as well as a few nice looking mid range jumpers. His improvement will be something to watch in the coming months,
On the guard side, the Golden Grizzlies continue to try and figure out the point guard spot, and it was truly by committee against the Titans. Rocket Watts and Tone Hunter had up and down nights, and DQ Cole largely struggled. But the efforts of them combined, as well as Osei Price who ran some point, were enough to get the job done.
The early difference in this year’s Oakland team is there are multiple pathways for them to win games. They can win playing different guys, as well as different styles. On this night it was the defense, something Kampe praised.
“I’ve seen defensive possessions win games for us, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen us so bad offensively, and we were still ahead at halftime. And then in the second half at the under four timeout they had eight points,” said Kampe.
It was another win for the Golden Grizzlies, who have now secured four victories in a row, and now sit at 5-3 on the year. More importantly, that’s 1-0 in the league before the calendar hits December. A chance for 2-0, and sitting atop the league standings until after Christmas looms on Saturday.
Fort Wayne sits at 7-1 overall, and are coming off a tight win over Green Bay in their conference opener.
The Mastodons are led by Rasheed Bello who averages 15.1 points per game. The point guard also averages over 4 assists a game. Those assists lead a high scoring balanced attack, as Jalen Jackson, Anthony Roberts and Quinton Morton-Robertson all average 13+ points per game. Fort Wayne started off the year with a win at Depaul, and are currently ranked 26th in the mid major top 25, missing the top 25 by one vote. Oakland sits at 47th in the poll.
The game Saturday tips off at 3pm Eastern at the O’rena. A good crowd is expected, and the broadcast will be on ESPN+.