For much of the season, Oakland fans figured their home finale would be Saturday afternoon. But it's just not so.
The Golden Grizzlies finished the regular season on a four-game win streak, vaulting them to the No. 3 seed in the Horizon League tournament. That means they'll host a first-round game, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday against Youngstown State.
It wasn't that long ago that Oakland was still fighting just to make the tournament, which this year includes only the top eight seeds from the 10-team league.
With Saturday's 74-63 victory over IUPUI, Oakland secured the No. 3 seed, to meet No. 6 Youngstown State. The two played two close games during the regular season, each winning on the road — Oakland by two, Youngstown State by one.
Freshman point guard Braden Norris had a double-double Saturday, with 12 points and 11 assists, adding three steals. Redshirt junior Xavier Hill-Mais had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Brad Brechting, another redshirt junior, had 15 points as he continues his late-season surge. He's averaging 18 points and nine rebounds in the last nine games. Redshirt junior Jaevin Cumberland scored 12 and freshman Tray Maddox 10.
IUPUI led, 33-31, at halftime, but Oakland (15-16, 11-7) shot 16-for-30 in the second half. For the game, the Golden Grizzlies had 26 assists on 28 field goals.
IUPUI (16-15, 8-10) was led by three players who each scored 15.
IUPUI, the No. 8 seed, visits No. 1 Wright State (19-12, 13-5) while No. 4 Green Bay (16-15, 10-8) hosts No. 5 UIC (16-15, 10-8), both games at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The other Wednesday game features Detroit Mercy (11-19, 8-10), the No. 7 seed, visiting No. 2 Northern Kentucky (23-8, 13-5) at 7 p.m.
Detroit Mercy, at home Saturday, lost to UIC, 80-71, despite 25 points from freshman Antoine Davis, and 12 each from senior Josh McFolley and junior Lamar Hamrick
The Titans were swept by Northern Kentucky during the regular season, with neither game close — one loss was by 22 points, the other by 32. Still, Detroit Mercy, under first-year coach Mike Davis, already has surpassed the victory total from each of the past two seasons, when the Titans won eight games in each under Bacari Alexander.
After the first-round games, the Horizon League tournament will move to Little Caesars Arena for the semifinals March 11 (7, 9:30 p.m.) and the final March 12 (7 p.m.). This is the final year for the tournament in Detroit; next year, it's moving to Indianapolis.
Left out of the Horizon League tournament are No. 9-seed Cleveland State (10-21, 5-13), which made the championship game last season, and No. 10-seed Milwaukee (9-22, 4-14), which made the semifinals.
More state men
Eastern Michigan 75, (at) Northern Illinois 69: James Thompson IV recorded 15 points and 17 rebounds as Eastern Michigan won.
Boubacar Toure added 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Eagles (14-15, 8-8 Mid-American Conference. Paul Jackson had 19 points and six assists.
Eugene German had 22 points for the Huskies (13-16, 6-10). Levi Bradley added 14 points. Dante Thorpe had seven assists.
The Eagles improve to 2-0 against the Huskies for the season. Eastern Michigan plays Ball State at home on Tuesday. Northern Illinois matches up against Central Michigan on the road on Tuesday.
Toledo 80, (at) Central Michigan 68: Luke Knapke and Jaelan Sanford scored 19 points apiece as Toledo topped Central Michigan.
Marreon Jackson added 18 points for the Rockets (23-6, 11-5 MAC). Willie Jackson had eight rebounds for Toledo.
Shawn Roundtree had 22 points for the Chippewas (20-9, 9-7), whose four-game winning streak ended. Larry Austin Jr. added 20 points. Dallas Morgan had 13 points.
The Rockets improve to 2-0 against the Chippewas for the season.
Ball State 60, (at) Western Michigan 58: K.J. Walton registered 15 points as Ball State narrowly beat Western Michigan.
Western rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie it at 55 with three minutes left after a 12-2 run but the Cardinals answered with a 5-0 spurt starting with a Brachen Hazen dunk.
Trailing 60-57 with 9.9 left, DJ Houston made a free throw then ricocheted the second off the front of the rim and the Broncos got the rebound. But Seth Dugan couldn’t score underneath with the ball going out of bounds to Western (8-21, 2-14 MAC) with 2.3 left.
Tayler Persons had 18 points for Ball State (15-14, 6-10).
Dugan had 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Broncos. Michael Flowers scored 11.
Detroit News wire services contributed