Detroit Mercy star Antoine Davis held to 14 points in 76-67 loss to Oakland

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Antoine Davis has had a whole lot of nights to remember this season.

But Monday was a night he'd like to forget.

Oakland made life miserable all night long for Detroit Mercy's superstar guard — who is on the heels of "Pistol" Pete Maravich to become college basketball's scoring king — but who didn't score for the first 17-plus minutes of the latest installment of the Metro Series. He finished with just 14 points, his lowest-scoring game since December 2020, as the Golden Grizzlies stormed to a 76-67 win before a crowd of 2,500 at Calihan Hall.

Antoine Davis

Jalen Moore, Oakland's star senior guard, had a season-high 32 points — one off his career high — that included a big surge in the second half, as the Golden Grizzlies won for the 12th time in the last 13 meetings between the rivals. After Detroit Mercy cut the deficit to two midway through the second half, Moore took over, as he's done so often this year, despite playing with a mouth full of blood after he bit his tongue after taking an elbow to the chin.

"Antoine Davis deserves everything he gets and does, but there's another guard in this area who's pretty damn good," Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said of Moore. "And you saw it tonight."

The victory was Oakland's seventh in the last eight games, and it put the Golden Grizzlies (9-12, 7-3) in a tie for third place in the Horizon League, where a top-four seed in the conference tournament has traditionally proven a must for teams' NCAA Tournament aspirations.

The Titans (8-13, 4-6) saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end.

Detroit Mercy, despite a lackluster first half in which it trailed by as many as 20, got back in the game in the second half, pulling within two points, at 50-48, with 10 minutes left.

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And that's when Moore got going, with a layup to extend the lead to four, then a steal, then another layup to push it to six, and then a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to push it to nine. All that came with a 150-second span.

Detroit Mercy got back to within 58-54, but Moore made four straight free throws, and graduate-student forward Keaton Hervey made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 65-56 with 2 minutes, 39 seconds left.

The Titans never got closer than six points the rest of the way, as Moore finished 8-for-16 from the floor and 14-for-16 from the free-throw line, all those trips earned by his neverending desire to get to the basket. This wasn't the first time Moore has come up big in crunch time this season — it's either him or redshirt forward Trey Townsend, who had a rare off night Monday — and you can be sure it won't be the last.

"I think I live for moments like this, honestly," Moore said. "It gets me going.

"My guys look to me to go make a play, and that gives me even more confidence."

Moore also had seven assists, three steals and five rebounds.

Junior guard Rocket Watts, playing in front of so many friends and family in his hometown, had some big moments, including a couple of banked-in 3-pointers that he looked almost embarrassed to have made. After making the first one, he raced back down the court, briefly covering his face in faux shame, and then letting out a big grin.

Hervey finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Watts' biggest impact, though, probably came on the defensive end, where he had two steals, and was almost always one of the two defenders constantly in the face of Davis, who was 3-for-16 shooting. He had two open looks.

To Davis' credit, he didn't force many shots, and he did have eight assists. But for the fourth game in a row, Davis was held under 20 points against Oakland. And the Golden Grizzlies, of course, will take that.

"He was just seeing two guys every time he would put the ball on the ground and try to drive," Moore said of Davis, who had scored 40-plus in each of his last two games, and who came into the rivalry game as the nation's leading scorer, averaging 27 points. "We wanted the other guys to beat us; we didn't want Antoine to beat us.

"We didn't want Antoine to get going, because the other guys feed off that when he's going."

Davis now is at 3,288 career points, 379 behind the game's all-time scoring king, Maravich, with at minimum 11 games remaining. With 11 games left, he'd have to average 34.45 points the rest of the to become No. 1. Obviously, any prolonged postseason run would increase Davis' chances of taking over the top spot. He already became the NCAA's all-time 3-point king this month.

Oakland's impressive defense wasn't just limited to Davis. Detroit Mercy senior forward Gerald Liddell, who's been a double-double machine for Detroit Mercy (seven in 10 games) but who's been battling a back injury and hasn't practiced much lately, was limited to seven rebounds and nine points.

The Titans finished shooting 38.8% for the game, 30.8% on 3-pointers.

"That was good team defense," Detroit Mercy head coach Mike Davis said of Oakland, which also only sent the Titans to the free-throw line seven times, while the Golden Grizzlies shot 29 free throws.

Graduate swingman Damezi Anderson led the Titans with 22 points and was the only starter for Detroit Mercy who wasn't a minus on the plus-minus stat sheet, and graduate-student guard A.J. Oliver had 18 points, heating up big-time in the second half, as the Titans made their final charge. Oliver also had nine rebounds.

Graduate swingman Damezi Anderson led the Titans with 22 points, and graduate guard A.J. Oliver had 18, heating up in the second half as the Titans made their final charge. Oliver also had nine rebounds.

Detroit Mercy led, 10-4, a little over five minutes into the game, but Oakland then went on a 15-0 run. The Titans had just 25 points at halftime, and Davis only had eight of those.

Early on, Oakland definitely looked like the team that had three days to prepare — Kampe acknowledged this was an advantage — while Detroit Mercy only had one. Both most recently played at IUPUI, Oakland on Thursday and Detroit Mercy on Saturday.

"I don't know if in my 39 years I've ever had a team execute a game plan to the level that we executed that game plan," Kampe said. "The first half, defensively, was phenomenal."

The win was Oakland's eighth in a row at Calihan Hall, a record for Detroit Mercy opponents. Oakland had been tied with Marquette at seven.

Oakland got the job done with junior guard Blake Lampman, who was out because of a knee injury. Detroit Mercy, meanwhile, continues to be without junior guard Jayden Stone, who is waiting on an NCAA waiver for an academic-eligibility issue. The NCAA committee met Monday but didn't hand down a decision, a significant blow the longer this lingers for the Titans. Stone is arguably Detroit Mercy's second-best player, behind Davis.

Both teams now hit the road, with Oakland at Youngstown State on Friday and Robert Morris on Sunday. Detroit Mercy has Robert Morris on Sunday and Youngstown State on Sunday.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984