Sitting at 1-2 in the league having lost five of six games overall, the Golden Grizzlies were in need of a win. However, the problem that lay ahead was a trip to the defending regular season Horizon League champion Youngstown State Penguins, who had yet to lose in league play this year.
The solution to that problem though, was simple for Oakland. Get the win anyway.
Oakland took home an 88-81 win in Youngstown on Sunday, moving back to .500 in league play.
The point total was a season-high for the Golden Grizzlies, and a big reason for that was the performance behind the arc, particularly from Blake Lampman.
Lampman tallied 7 threes en route to a career high 26 points. He also logged 5 rebounds. It was the best we’ve seen him this year, and possible throughout his entire tenure at Oakland. Now that a huge breakout game has happened, it may not be the last one we see from Lampman as his time as a Golden Grizzly winds down.
Flanking Lampman on the outside was Jack Gohlke, who also found his form again from deep. Gohlke made 4-7 from deep, good for 12 points. After making 4 or more threes five times in his first 10 games, Gohlke hit that mark for the first time in his last five.
One interesting note was Gohlke came off the bench for the first time this year, seeing the starting nod instead go to DQ Cole. Cole struggled early, but ended up shooting 2-3 from three and with 8 points in only 13 minutes. His comfort level is rising, and it will be quite a boost for Oakland when he settles in all the way.
The familiar faces down low were once again a force for Oakland. In a game where it felt like he struggled, Trey Townsend managed to post 15 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, on 7 shots. If Oakland’s shooters are going to make shots like they did a few more times this year, we could see Townsend flirt with a triple double at some point down the road.
Chris Conway also added 18 points as he continues to make his case for best offense center in the league. He seems to have more confidence in his left hand as of late, which will make him an even tougher cover.
There wasn’t much else to report for Oakland in the scoring column, but Tone Hunter got some extended time and ended with 8 assists and 4 boards in 22 minutes. He seems to be struggling with his scoring ability, but the high assist total is a good sign he is finding more control in running the offense.
Through 15 games this year, Oakland has played at home a grand total of three times, and that is about to change. An upcoming stretch of four of five at home, with the road game at IUPUI, could be one that you look back on at the end of the season as a stretch where you end up at the top of the league, or not.
The stretch begins with Milwaukee. The Panthers have had their struggles, but got a huge boost Sunday with a big win over Wright State and the return of their top player BJ Freeman. In seven appearances, Freeman is averaging 20 points, 5.6 boards and 3.3 assists. The game plan will start with slowing him down.
In Freeman’s absence, Erik Pratt picked up some of the scoring load. Pratt is averaging 19.6 points a game in his last six, after being almost a non threat for most of the beginning of the year.
Returners Kentrell Pullian and Elijah Jamison are key Panther pieces to be aware of if you are Oakland. Another returner, Markeith Browning, was recently kicked off the team for a violation of team rules. Browning averaged almost 9 points a game and started 9 of 11 contests.
Milwaukee sits at 2-1 in the league and with Freeman back for what seems like the long haul, could be primed for a run towards the top of the standings. This would be a quality home win to kick off a stretch of home games for Oakland.
Tip off will be Thursday night at 7pm, and will be broadcast on ESPN+.