Oakland gets blitzed by Fort Wayne, focus back on non-con

Photo Courtesy of Oakland Athletics/Skip Townsend

The first eight games of the season for Oakland had gone about as well as anyone could have asked. Sitting at 5-3 with one of the hardest non conference schedules in the country was a heck of an achievement. Through eight games, Oakland was one of two teams in the country to cover the spread in every game they had played in so far.

So when Fort Wayne came out firing their way to an early 14-4 lead, it wasn’t a surprise. But it didn’t end there. In fact, the onslaught got much, much worse.

The Mastodons hung 98 points up in the O’rena, using 17 threes to power their way to a 21 point win. They had five different players make at least two threes, and those five combined for 16-22 from beyond the arc. That’s good for 72.7%.

“In my 40 years of coaching, that was maybe the greatest offensive performance I’ve ever seen in this building,” Greg Kampe said postgame.

At the under 8 media timeout in the second half, Fort Wayne had 91 points, and was shooting 90% from the floor in the half. They were better in almost every way on Saturday.

Offensively, Oakland was led again by their interior duo early on. Chris Conway and Trey Townsend each finished with 13 points, and most of those came in the first half. Conway had an impressive run of 4 buckets in a row late in the opening half that included two dunks and a few nifty finishes. 

While blowout losses are never good, there are a few positives. The positive on this day for Oakland was watching DQ Cole have his best run as a Golden Grizzly while getting some extended time and freedom with the game out hand. He broke out for 21 points, seven boards and four assists in 28 minutes. Oakland has big belief in Cole’s future, and performances like this show why that is, as well as that the future may not be future for much longer.

Isaiah Jones put in another good offensive performance, with 11 points on 5-6 shooting, while Buru Naivalrua logged seven points and seven rebounds.

It wasn’t Oakland’s offense that was the problem, but on a day where stops were hard to come by, Jack Gohlke struggling from deep, going 2-11, and Rocket Watts being held scoreless really hurt Oaklands chances of keeping pace in a shootout. Watts has shown more flashes this year than last, but the up and down performances just might be what Oakland has to deal with going forward.

Unfortunately, injuries are again becoming a big story for Oakland. Tone Hunter rolled his ankle in the first half, and was seen postgame in a boot and on crutches. He joins Blake Lampman and Cooper Craggs on the injured list. Lampman and Craggs could both see returns in the next 2 weeks however, which would be a massive boost going into the bulk of conference play.

Oakland will now sit on their 1-1 conference record until after Christmas, when they resume Horizon League play at Cleveland State on December 28th. In the meantime, it’s time to dig back into non-con play. 

On Wednesday, the Toledo Rockets come to Rochester sporting a 3-4 record and a 4 game losing streak. Despite the record, Toledo has wins over Detroit and Wright State, so this should be a good test for Oakland. 

The Rockets provide a high powered offense, ranking in the top 60 in the country in offense. The defense gives up points though, so we could be in for a lot of fireworks Wednesday night. 

Toledo is led by Ra’Heim Moss and Dante Maddox Jr. They each average around 15 points a game and can score with anyone. Sonny Wilson is a freshman point guard for the Rockets, and decided to go to Toledo over Oakland out of high school. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the O’rena.

Tip off is Wednesday night at 7pm, and it’s military appreciation night. All service members get in free. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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