At 8-3 and towards the top of the standings, Oakland was not in uncharted territory. The last two seasons have seen Oakland at 7-3 and playing for first place last year, and 9-1 and in first place the year before. Both of those years saw 3 game losing streaks at that point, before falling out of the Top 4 and losing out on a home quarterfinal game.
It is clear the leadership on the team, both coaches and players, remember those years, and are determined to not have it happen again.
Oakland had the benefit of two games at home, as opposed to the last few years where they went on the road at this point. They took care of business, amassing two double digit wins over Robert Morris and Cleveland State.
Thursday’s contest with the Colonials was an 87-72 final, which saw Oakland shoot 15-27 from three. The Golden Grizzlies were in control the entire night, and ended up with a comfortable win.
With 15 made threes, you would expect the shooters on Oakland had big days, and they did. Blake Lampman made 8-13 from behind the arc, while Jack Gohlke hit 4-8. Lampman tallied 26 points to lead Oakland, while Gohlke followed him with 19. While Lampman has certainly been the story recently, it is as big of a deal for Oakland that Gohlke has rekindled some of his early season confidence. Their shotmaking is clearly a different maker.
DQ Cole and Rocket Watts combined for the other three buckets from beyond the arc. Cole and Watts both scored double digits, while also combining for 9 rebounds. These two are athletes that add an element to Oakland that teams in the league can’t match, and with the shooters playing well, it’s a perfect mix on the perimeter right now for the Golden Grizzlies.
Trey Townsend let his team do most of the work, and played the role of distributor, tying for the team lead in assists in the night with 4, along with Lampman and Cole. He still added 11 points as well.
Defensively, the big concern coming into the night was on the glass, and Oakland more than held their own, winning that battle 37-32.
Saturday saw Oakland looking to avenge an early season loss against Cleveland State. CSU dominated that game physically, and it was clear Oakland didn’t want to let that happen again.
Oakland won another battle on the glass against a very good rebounding team, this time by a margin of 38-30.
That effort was led by Trey Townsend, who was more of his dominant self in this contest. He shot 8-12 from the floor for 18 points, while also coming up just short of a double double with 9 rebounds.
While Townsend got back into the act, Blake Lampman was still the headline act. He scored 26 points again, en route to winning Horizon League player of the week. He averaged 26 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in the two games.
The rest of the effort was truly a combined one from a number of Golden Grizzlies.
DQ Cole stuffed the stat sheet with 6 points, 6 boards and 5 assists. Chris Conway added 8 points, Jack Gohlke tallied 9 points and 6 boards, while Rocket Watts scored 6 of his own.
Buru Naivalurua and Isaiah Jones continue to be exactly what Oakland needs, doing little things all over the floor. Jones scored 6 and grabbed 4 rebounds, while Naivalurua scored 4 and took down 5 boards.
It’s games like this that should excite everyone around Oakland’s program. They can win in a multitude of styles, with a multitude of different players to throw at an opposing team. The Golden Grizzlies are riding high, and the next stretch of games should provide a stiff test.
A road trip of Northern Kentucky, Wright State and Fort Wayne loom ahead. NKU is the defending tournament champs, and will be playing with a backs against the wall attitude when Oakland visits them Thursday.
The Norse are in the midst of a three game losing streak and they have fallen to 6-6 in the league, and a tie of seventh place. Marques Warrick continues to lead them, averaging almost 20 points a game.
A trip to Wright State follows on Saturday. This game has the potential to be very important, as these two teams play twice still and Oakland sits two games ahead of the Raiders. Trey Calvin and Tanner Holden form as formidable of a duo as there is in the league, and Brandon Noel, Aj Braun, and Alex Huibregtse round out a starting five that is an explosive offense. They are leading the country in field goal percentage, as well as baskets per game. They are 5th in the country in scoring.
This is maybe the most interesting week of the season so far for Oakland, and it comes before a closing stretch that sees them primarily at home. Both games will tip off at 7pm.