Oakland pulls away from Detroit Mercy in second half

By Connor Muldowney
Special to The Detroit News
Braden Norris finished with 23 points in Oakland's 95-75 victory over Detroit Mercy Saturday.

Auburn Hills — On a day Detroit Mercy's Antoine Davis was aiming to break Steph Curry's freshman 3-pointer makes record, it was Oakland who lit up the scoreboard from long range. 

Oakland (13-16, 9-7 Horizon League) secured its second win over Horizon League rival Detroit, 95-75, Saturday at the O'Rena. 

The outcome never seemed to be in doubt as Oakland raced out to a double-digit lead early and extended it in the second half.

"I'm really pleased, obviously, we know what this game means," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "We grabbed (the lead) from the beginning and never let it go."

Davis was just five 3-pointers short of breaking Curry's record, but went 3-for-10. He finished with 20 points.

BOX SCORE: Oakland 95, Detroit Mercy 75

That feat wasn't lost on the Oakland players.

"The truth is this, I didn’t care (about the record)," Kampe said. " But when I walked into practice the first thing they said was, 'He’s not getting it in our gym.' When they knew that, I was excited and I agreed. (Davis) wasn’t going to get it."

He will have two remaining regular season games to make history and, as long as Detroit (10-18, 7-9) can win one of its remaining games or Milwaukee loses one more, the Titans will lock up a spot in the Horizon League Tournament.

Oakland has already secured a spot in the conference tournament.

The Grizzlies' defense stifled Davis, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by his final stat line containing just one turnover and six assists.

"Look what we did to him and now look at his line," Kampe said. "My god, the average human would have had 12 turnovers. This kid is a special, special player. I thought we guarded him very well."

Mercy coach Mike Davis wasn't quite on the same page as he believed his son, doubling as his starting point guard, was on the wrong end of some aggressive play.

"Come on, man, you saw that defense," Davis said. "I can show you on film holding and grabbing. If he wasn't my son I'd be saying this. Out of the top 55 scorers in the country, 54 shoot more free throws than him."

Braden Norris looked like the one chasing the NCAA record, making 7-of-10 from long range and sparking a second-half run that led to a comfortable win, Oakland's fifth straight in the rivalry.

While he had one of his best career games offensively, it was his defense, along with Tray Maddox's, that prevented Davis' 3-point record.

"We were all aware of (the record)," Norris said. "We were taking great pride in not letting him get it in our gym. It was the same game plan we had the first game."

As a team, Oakland made 12 3-pointers on 24 attempts, leading to its first 90-point game of the season.

Xavier Hill-Mais finished with 29 points and Norris added 23 to lead Oakland.

Josh McFolley had 14 and Harrison Curry 13 for Detroit Mercy.

Despite being less than pleased with the way his point guard was defended all game, Davis had one promise for the rest of the Horizon League.

"When I get my players in here, I don't care where we go play, who we play, I couldn't care less, we're going to get 'em" Davis said. "Nothing against (my) guys, they've given me everything they've got. You'll see."

Buckle up, this rivalry is just starting to heat up.

"They’ve been told since the day we recruited them, they’ve been told since the day they stepped on campus: this game is more than just a game," Kampe said.

Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.