Smack talk helps lift Oakland over rival Detroit
Detroit — On Friday, University of Detroit forward Chris Jenkins guaranteed a win for his team over Oakland University.
On Saturday, the Golden Grizzlies left Calihan Hall with a 86-82 win over the Titans.
“I started getting texts and phone calls saying ‘Did you see that?’” said Oakland coach Greg Kampe. “I was smiling. I was the happiest guy there, because that’s what a rivalry is. When people start doing that.
“He may be one of my favorite kids around. He’s a local kid and he’s just a great kid. I’m glad he did it."
Kay Felder led the way for Oakland with 22 points. Jalen Hayes added 19, Percy Gibson 17 and Sherron Dorsey-Walker 14.
Hayes completed the double-double with 11 rebounds.
“He’s a good defensive stopper,” Felder said of Hayes. “In these three years he’s been at Oakland, he’s evolved into a great player, an elite player and I truly believe that he was a big help today.”
Paris Bass and Jaleel Hogan (career-high) each scored 20 to lead Detroit.
Jenkins finished with eight points on 2-of-4 shooting, and 4-of-6 from the free throw line.
“It was a tough ballgame,” said Detroit coach Ray McCallum. “The guys are really disappointed going into the locker room. I haven’t seen them like this (before).”
The Titans went on a quick 6-2 run to start the game. The Golden Grizzlies picked up the pace on defense, and the first half proved to be a back-and-forth affair, with Detroit leading most of the way through.
However, Oakland turned up the heat on offense late in the half. The Golden Grizzlies went on a 7-1 run in the last 36 seconds, and took a 43-40 lead into the break after Dorsey-Walker made a side-step three-pointer at the buzzer.
Felder had 13 points at halftime for Oakland, including four in the last minute, to lead all scorers. Hogan had eight to lead Detroit.
“I thought he was effective,” McCallum said of Hogan’s first half. “From there, I thought that we had a stretch where we started doing things too quickly and they (the Golden Grizzlies) were able to close the half with a nice rhythm.”
As a team, the Golden Grizzlies struggled from beyond the arc — shooting 3-of-13 in the first half. The Titans were 1-of-5 from long range.
Both teams traded baskets to start the second half, until Oakland picked up the pace. The Golden Grizzlies forced a pair of turnovers, leading to an 8-0 run on three-pointers from Max Hooper and Felder, and a layup by Dorsey-Walker. With 12:09 left in regulation, the Grizzlies led 69-60.
“Once we got to the second half, both teams were kind of punching,” McCallum said. “They extended their lead. I’m proud of my guys, that they were able to cut the lead.”
In the second half, Hayes and Gibson played in foul trouble. Both had four for the majority of the half. However, Hayes said it didn’t change how he approached the rest of the game.
“It didn’t really change much,” Hayes said. “The coaches were still preaching to us to stay aggressive. Whenever you hesitate, you’re giving up easy baskets. We played aggressive, but obviously we had to eliminate the silly fouls that weren’t called for. But we stayed aggressive.”
Oakland used that aggressiveness to increase its lead to 11 at two points in the second half (73-62 with 8:14 left, 75-64 with 6:20 left). But Mercy wasn’t done yet. With 1:30 left, the Titans trailed 83-78.
Hogan fouled out with 17.8 seconds to go for Mercy.
Kampe said the rivalry, in its third year, has become a staple in the area.
“I’m glad that it means that much,” he said. “I’m glad that it can mean this much to the community. I’m extremely happy. Yes, I’m happy with the outcome, but just with what it’s become, what it’s evolved to in three years, it makes me really happy.”
The official attendance announced was 6,125. It was the third straight year that more than 6,000 people were announced for the rivalry game.
Before the game, Kampe paid tribute to Reggie Hall, a stalwart in the University of Detroit athletic community, former producer at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, and perhaps most importantly: his friend.
Hall died from injuries sustained in a car accident in December.
“Reggie was a very close friend,” Kampe said after the game. “I miss him like everybody does. He was probably the nicest person I ever met in my life, bar anybody. He was the nicest person I ever met. I’m sad like everybody that he’s not here, especially with how it went down.”
McCallum said that Calihan Hall would have been significantly louder than it already was on Saturday.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “(Reggie) would have been the loudest person in the gym, leading the cheers and just making sure the guys heard him. He was the pride of Titan Country. I walk in here every day and I think about Titan Reggie.”
Kampe said there was one thing that likely would have happened, if circumstances were different.
“I know that he and I would have been talking on the phone tonight,” he said. “I’d have been woofing and he’d have been, well, you know Reggie.”
Al Willman is a freelance writer