Oakland takes Richmond to the wire, falls in NIT

Tony Paul, The Detroit News

The first words out of Greg Kampe’s mouth, over the phone Sunday night:

“Did he get fouled?”

Junior guard Martez Walker let fly a 3-pointer with eight seconds left, and a Richmond defender came down on top of him.

From the naked eye, it looked like a foul. On the replay, it looked like Walker might have done a little acting, or even helped drag the defender down on top of him.

Either way, it was a no-call and No. 6 seed Richmond held on for a thrilling 87-83 victory over No. 7 seed Oakland in a second-round National Invitation Tournament game at Robins Center.

Walker wanted the foul, Kampe wanted the foul, but the longtime coach of the Golden Grizzlies hadn’t yet seen the replay when he talked to The News on Sunday night, the last night of Oakland’s season.

“I’m prejudiced, too,” Kampe said. “I wanted it to be a foul.

“We had our top three players with four fouls, so we went for the win.”

Just 21 seconds earlier, Walker, a junior guard, hit a 3-pointer and was fouled, converting the four-point play at the free-throw line to cut Oakland’s deficit to 84-83.

Richmond star T.J. Cline then was fouled, and split his pair, given the Golden Grizzlies the chance for a tie or the victory.

With Walker, senior Sherron Dorsey-Wlaker and junior Jalen Hayes all with four fouls — and playing on the road, before a hostile, raucous and near-sellout crowd — Kampe said he wanted to go for the win.

Oakland led by seven in the second half after trailing by eight in the first half. At halftime Kampe switched up his lineup, putting Dorsey-Walker on Cline, Richmond, the son of famed women’s basketball player and coach, Nancy Lieberman.

“And it worked,” Kampe said. “Then we just got tired, and I didn’t do a good-enough job substituting out and making some changes.

“It was a tough environment. I was just trying to hang on. I’m gonna second-guess myself a lot on this one.”

Cline finished with 25 points and nine rebounds.

For Oakland, Walker scored 25, on 8-for-16 shooting, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland — another second-half substitution — had 13. Junior Nick Daniels scored 12, including several 3-pointers early.

Oakland, after rallying past Clemson in an opening-round game, couldn’t repeat the feat Sunday.

The Golden Grizzlies (25-9) finish one win short of matching the program record set in 2009-10, when Oakland made the NCAA Tournament. Oakland won the Horizon League regular-season championship, before being upset in its opening tournament game by Youngstown State.

It loses only Dorsey-Walker to graduation.

“I’m really proud of this group of kids,” Kampe said. “Sherron Dorsey-Walker won 48 games in his two years here.

“We’re going to celebrate, we’re gonna get rings and celebrate the year, and then get ready for next year.”