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Inside look at high school and Oakland University sports from Oakland Press sports writer Dave Pemberton.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oakland falls at Iowa

Iowa just seemed to have an answer for every Oakland run Sunday in a 66-57 victory over the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland battled back to make it a one-possession game multiple times in the second half and every time the Hawkeyes responded.

The Grizzlies trailed by nine, 36-27, and pulled within one, 37-36, with 12:45 left in the second half. But Iowa was able to build its lead back to 10, 53-43, with 5:44 left.

Oakland pulled within two, 53-51, with 2:54 left and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Johnathon Jones forced a tough shot that missed.

A 3-pointer by Anthony Tucker and some clutch free-throw shooting pushed Iowa’s lead up to 11, 62-51, with 46 seconds left. Oakland tried to foul and prolong the game, but the Hawkeyes shot 8-for-11 from the free-throw line in the final 1:05.

“I'm very, very disappointed in how the game ended,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe told Oakland Athletics. “We had the game exactly where we wanted it. Jones made a horrible decision when we had the ball with a chance to take the lead. We ran a set, and he refused the set and turned it down with a 6-foot-6 guy on him and took a jump shot, when he should have taken that ball to the basket and let the referee make a decision, or maybe he makes it. He's great going to the hole and he settles for a jump shot.

“Then we come down and they are about to get a shot clock violation and they throw up some bomb, and (Anthony Tucker) gets an offensive rebound and we foul him. That was a huge play, because now they take it out and get another shot and make a 3. We get that rebound, I call timeout, and we run something inside, and hopefully we make a basket. The game went from one point to nine, there was nothing we could do.”

Jones led Oakland with 21 points and five assists and senior Erik Kangas added 18 points.

Sophomore Will Hudson had six points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals in his first start of the season. But Hudson was Oakalnd’s only inside presence. Sophomore center Keith Benson had his worst game of the season, scoring one point in just 12 minutes of action.

“I was really disappointed in (Keith) Benson,” Kampe said. “I ended up just not playing him. He didn't come ready to play. He's young, and we are doing a bunch of stuff that is hard. He looked lost out there on the floor so I just took him out. But he'll be fine, he's young and he will learn from it.”

Iowa hit 10 3-pointers in the win, led by five from Tucker, who finished with 19 points. Jake Kelly hit three 3-pointers off the bench and finished with 16 points.

“They're in their gym and they're going to make shots,” Kampe said. “They made 10 of 25 and I thought we did a great job in defending them. We didn't lose the game because of our defense, we lost the game because we made critical errors at critical times and because we couldn't make a shot.

“We've played four games now and two scrimmages, and we can't make shots,” Kampe added. “I've got a very good shooting team, we just can't put the ball in the basket. How many (shots) went half way in and out, and look at the free throw line. Johnathon Jones is a great free throw shooter and he's 3-for-6 from the free throw line and we’re 6-for-11. If we're 11-for-11, or 10-for-11 in the game like we should be, it's a different game.

“It's all coming down to shooting, we have to shoot the ball better. It would be nice if we could play a home game and get that going, but that's not going to happen. We have two road league games at the end of this and we've got to be ready to play them.”

The loss to Iowa was the second game of a seven-game, 15-day road trip for Oakland and the second of three games in five days. The Grizzlies played at Syracuse on Nov. 21 and play at Kansas State on Tuesday.

“We went from one end of the country to the other, and then back in to the middle,” Kampe said of his team’s travel since the win at Oregon. “So yes, that has something to do with it, but it's going to make us tougher and better. We have to get through it. If I knew that Derick Nelson was going to get hurt the day before we left and we weren't going to be able to practice and get stuff in, I wouldn't made this schedule. But that's what happened and we didn't know this would happen. We're still not shooting the ball well.”

Note: Kampe was critical of Iowa’s practice facility, which Oakland was forced to use due to the women’s team hosting the Hawkeye Challenge.

“When we got here Friday, we practiced in one of the most gawd-awful places I’ve ever been in,” Kampe told the Des Moines Register.

Apparently the practice gym doesn’t even have a regulation 3-point line and the school is attempting fundraisers to build a new campus practice facility.



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