BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Greg Kampe delivered a promise Thursday night that Oakland University will never open the men’s basketball season again with 15 road games in 19 starts.
“I promise that we will never do that again,” said the veteran OU men’s basketball coach. “I don’t think anybody else in the country has had to do that. Those 15 games were true road games, not neutral sites. We’re getting close to the end of gauntlet now.”
Oakland made a pit stop with a rare home game Thursday at the O’rena in Rochester Hills and found plenty of success. Playing in only its fourth home game of the 2012-13 season, OU simply pulled away from Nebraska-Omaha, recording a 91-79 Summit League triumph.
The game was played at a blistering pace — Oakland led 50-42 at the half — and despite some cold shooting late in the game, the Golden Grizzlies might have eclipsed 100 points. The two teams combined for 22 three-pointers and 124 shot attempts in the contest.
All five of the Golden Grizzlies’ starting five reached double figures. Ryan Bass twined 20 points with four assists, two steals and no turnovers for Oakland (7-9, 2-1), which had 13 turnovers, five in the last five minutes where Oakland led by over 20 points.
Travis Bader added 19 points despite shooting only 5-for-13 from the floor. Providence transfer Duke Mondy added 18 points, nine assists and six steals, Corey Petros poured in 16 points with eight rebounds and Drew Valentine followed with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Grizzlies, who swiped 14 passes and had 22 team assists on 35 made baskets (35-for-69 shooting, 50.7 percent).
“That’s the way I like it,” beamed Kampe. “We have proven over the years with over 400 wins that this is the way I like to see us play. It works. When you get in this type of game, the team with the better athletes usually wins.”
The Mavericks (4-13, 1-4) shot 66 percent (8-for-12) from three-point range in keeping the game close in the first half. In fact, Omaha made more threes (eight) than two-point baskets (seven) in the first half.
The Mavericks shot 30-for-55 (54.5 percent) from the field for the game and sank 11-of-22 three-point attempts overall, although they cooled off substantially in the second half.
“We held them to only 33 percent shooting in the second half. I think we wore them down a little bit,” said Kampe. “I don’t really care about them making eight threes in the first half. Basketball games are not won in the first half.”
Leading 20-18, Valentine scored seven straight to up the ante to 27-20 with 11:41 to play. That was part of a 10-3 run.
Omaha rallied back and grabbed its first lead at 29-28 on a three by Caleb Steffensmeier and tied the game at 38-38 with 4:21 remaining in the half on a layup by Justin Simmons.
Oakland closed with a 12-4 run to go up by eight at the break and never trailed in the second half.
Twice in the second half, Oakland used 11-0 runs to pull away. The Golden Grizzlies held their biggest advantage when Petros’ layup pushed the lead to 91-70 with 5:30 to play.
Omaha, in its first season in the Summit League as a new Division I school, closed with a 9-0 run. The damage had already been done.
Simmons scored a game-high 24 points for the Mavericks. John Karhoff added 14 points while both Alex Welhouse and Alex Phillips contributed nine points each for Omaha.
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