Oakland Shocks Oral Roberts
TULSA, OK – Nobody gave them a chance,
but Oakland overcame all odds and defeated top seeded Oral Roberts 61-60
in the Mid-Continent Conference Championship game Tuesday night before a
capacity crowd of 6,005.
The victory earns Oakland its first
NCAA Tournament birth in school history under 21st year Head
Coach Greg Kampe. The Golden Grizzlies are in only their seventh year
of Division I competition.
Seniors Rawle Marshall and Cortney
Scott were their usual selves for Oakland. Scott turned in 19 points
and 4 rebounds while Marshall added 18 and 8.
But it was Junior Guard Pierre Dukes
who stole the show for the Golden Grizzlies. Trailing 60-58 with time
winding down, Dukes canned a contested 21-footer from the corner with
1.3 seconds remaining to propel OU into the lead. Oral Roberts was
unable to get a shot off and the celebration was on in Rochester,
Dukes finished with 7 points.
Freshman guard Brandon Cassise also
came up large for Oakland netting 11 points on 3-of-5 three-point
shooting. Oakland connected on 24-of-47 field goal attempts (51
percent) including 5-of-11 from long distance.
Coach Kampe’s game plan was clear from
the tip. Offensively Oakland worked the shot clock and put the ball in
the hands of Rawle Marshall and Cortney Scott. Defensively the
Grizzlies were outstanding, making ORU work for everything they got.
Oakland held the ORU duo of Caleb Green
and Ken Tutt to a combined 25 points, each well below their season
Senior walk-on Andrew Meloy was a
bright spot for Oral Roberts, scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Milloy scored 10 straight for ORU mid-way through the first half,
including two three-point bombs.
Oral Roberts’ Achilles Heal was the
free throw line, where the Golden Eagles connected on just 10-of-21
attempts. Oral Roberts out-rebounded Oakland 29-23 in the loss.
Rawle Marshall was named Tournament MVP
by averaging 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per contest in three
tournament outings. Oakland’s Cortney Scott and Oral Roberts’ Caleb
Green, Ken Tutt, and Andrew Meloy joined Marshall on the All-Tournament
For Oral Roberts the waiting game
begins. At 25-6, ORU is arguably a bubble team, but a Mid-Continent
Conference squad has not earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament
since 1991 (Wisconsin-Green Bay).
Not all is lost should the selection
committee take a pass on Oral Roberts, as they are certain to get a NIT
bid. This will mark the second time in three seasons that two Mid-Con
schools have qualified for post-season action. In 2003 IUPUI qualified
for the NCAA Tournament and Valparaiso played in the NIT.