Win streak moves to 3, NKU comes to town

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Photo courtesy of Oakland Athletics

At the beginning of last week, Oakland sat at 1-2 in the league starting down three games against teams ahead of them in the standings.

The end of the week sees them in a much better spot.

Oakland followed up their victory at Youngstown State with a Wisconsin school sweep at home. Thursday saw a 100-95 triumph over Milwaukee, with a victory over Green Bay on Saturday. That game was a 79-73 win.

Beginning with Thursday, yes, that is the correct score. 74 free throws, a technical foul, multiple reviews, a flagrant foul and timeouts galore made for what might’ve been the longest regulation game in O’rena history.

As for how we got there, Trey Townsend was the leader for the Golden Grizzlies all night. After a few down scoring games in a row, he imposed his will for 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists. This was a night that Townsend looked the part of Horizon League Player of the Year.

Blake Lampman continued the best stretch of his collegiate career with five threes and 19 points of his own. Running a good amount of point guard, he also tallied 4 assists with 1 turnover. If this Lampman stays with Oakland for most of the rest of the season, the Golden Grizzlies become extremely dangerous.

Chris Conway added 12 on 6-9 shooting before fouling out early, while DQ Cole chipped in five in another start for the lefty.

The new look bench produced the extra offense that got Oakland to the century mark. Rocket Watts poured in 14 points in 18 minutes, including 6-7 from the free throw line, almost all in the clutch moments of the game. His defense late in the game also helped get just enough stops to secure the win. Jack Gohlke added 10 of his own, and Tone Hunter had a good stretch of play early that provided a nice spark.

On a night where he largely struggled, Isaiah Jones went 4-4 from the line in the big moments. He finished with six points and eight boards. Jones continues to prove his worth as the perfect glue guy.

Oakland went 30-39 from the line on the way to the five point win. It was then onto Saturday to face the red-hot Green Bay Phoenix.

It was very similar at the top for Oakland, with Townsend and Lampman equaling their point totals from Thursday. Townsend was once again the man with 28 points and 11 boards, while Lampman nailed 5 more threes en route to scoring 19.

Isaiah Jones was once again huge on both ends with 12 points and six rebounds, while Rocket Watts chipped in 8 key points.

Chris Conway struggled throughout but hit a huge turnaround hook in the last minute to give Oakland a three point lead. His confidence has reached a point where even when he doesn’t have it going, he still wants the big shots, a massive sign for Oakland.

Tone Hunter was the other big player off the bench, playing 27 minutes. He only scored two points, but grabbed five rebounds and dished three assists with no turnovers. If Hunter continues to get more comfortable the Golden Grizzlies will have their true point guard on a consistent basis soon enough.

Although the story of the weekend was Oakland scoring enough to secure two huge wins, the defense struggled at times.

Giving up 95 to Milwaukee saw a breakdown defensively in the second half, and Green Bay nailed the second-most threes in school history with 15. There are spurts of really good activity on that end, including how POY candidate Noah Reynolds was largely taken out of the game for Green Bay, but there needs to be a little bit more to continue on an upward trajectory this year. The fact the offense is good enough to carry at the moment is a huge plus however.

The home stand continues this Wednesday against Northern Kentucky. The Norse sit at 3-2 in the league and were picked to win it after making the NCAA Tournament last season.

NKU is led by Marques Warrick who scores almost 20 a game. He’s had his fair share of big performances against Oakland in the past, including ending the Golden Grizzlies season last year in Kentucky, so Oakland will definitely know where he is at all times.

Northern Kentucky lost Sam Vinson for the year earlier this season to a torn ACL. He was undoubtedly the number 2 option behind Warrick, and that injury is a killer.

The Norse are still formidable though, coming off an overtime loss in Cleveland. Veteran Trey Robinson is next up on the scoring chart, followed by Michael Bradley and Marquette transfer Keeyan Itejere, who also averages 2 blocks a game and can provide some high flying highflying highlights.

It should be a fun battle inside the O’rena on Wednesday. Tip is at 7, and it will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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