It’s often a tough life as a mid major basketball program. In the case of Oakland, fresh off of a non conference schedule filled with big wins and quality performers, you can feel great about your team.
But all of the sudden after just two bad performances, you look up and you’re 1-2 in the games that matter.
Oakland lost 75-67 to Cleveland State on Thursday night. They fell 6-8 on the year and 1-2 in the league.
It was a pretty lifeless first half from the Golden Grizzlies, trailing by as many as 23 before taking a 41-23 deficit going into the halftime break.
After an ugly start from both teams for the first few minutes, Cleveland State began tearing up the Golden Grizzlies, scoring almost at will from everywhere on the court. 12 Viking threes on the night left them to victory, a familiar sight for why Oakland comes up on the losing end.
Offensively, Oakland struggled mightily in the first half. Cleveland State proved to have the blueprint to stopping Trey Townsend and Chris Conway together, making everything tough for both of them, while keeping them off the offensive glass. That, combined with poor shooting, led to the lopsided halftime score.
Oakland showed some life in the second half, outscoring the Vikings 44-34.
After being held down for the first 20 minutes, Townsend and Conway turned it on a little in the second half. Townsend struggled for most of the night, but still ended up with 13 points and 12 boards. To be a great team, Oakland will need him to be the man most nights, but that production on a night he struggled is a good sign going forward for his prowess in the league.
Chris Conway is proving to be one of the best bigs in the Horizon. He led Oakland in scoring with 14 points while also adding 7 rebounds.
Blake Lampman and Rocket Watts also had nice second halves. Lampman finished the game with 12 points, 5 boards and 3 assists. The Senior guard started at the point guard spot, with Watts coming off the bench. It was a mixed bag of results, but the run to bring Oakland back in the second half saw Lampman distributing as well as scoring off the bounce. Watts finished the game with 11.
Where Oakland needs to start seeing improvement offensively is from beyond the arc. Oakland’s three shooters, Lampman, Jack Gohlke and DQ Cole, combined for 2-15 from three. It’s easy to single out Gohlke as someone that has to turn it around, he has too good of a track record to continue shooting like this.
This loss makes the next stretch of games that much more important for Oakland, but before a nice stretch 4 of 5 at home with the road game being Iupui, the Golden Grizzlies will travel to Youngstown to take on the Penguins.
Youngstown State is 10-3 and 2-0 in the league. They are the highest ranked team in the league in KenPom and are coming off of a regular season league championship last year.
Returner Brandon Rush leads the scoring at 13. 7 points per contest. He had a 30 point outburst in the Orena last year, so Oakland will certainly be aware of him.
After Rush it is a bunch of additions from the portal for Youngstown State. Ziggy Reid, DJ Burns and Brett Thompson all are transfers who average double digits. NKU transfer Bryson Langdon leads the team in assists.
The game will tip off at 2:30pm on Sunday. It will be broadcast on ESPN+.