Sunday afternoon’s double overtime instant classic at the O’rena in suburban Detroit followed a similar script to a few of Green Bay’s recent games.
The Phoenix led 40-30 at halftime only to see it quickly evaporate thanks to a 17-3 Oakland run which left Green Bay trailing by 9 with just over nine minutes left in the game. It was the third game in a row where the Phoenix let a sizable halftime lead shrink to nothing.
But in the previous two games they were able to battle back, scratching out a 94-90 win at Milwaukee back on February 15th and using a 19-3 run of its own this past Friday night to put away Detroit Mercy in convincing fashion, 84-67, after the Titans had tied the Phoenix at 57 in second half at Calihan Hall.
That would not be the case on Sunday as the Phoenix fell to Oakland, 92-88, in double overtime.
After Oakland took a 57-48 lead with 9:29 left to play, Green Bay went on a 15-5 run to regain the lead with 3:31 left when Michigan native Kam Hankerson hit a jump shot just inside the lane. The teams traded buckets back and forth down the stretch with the Phoenix eventually taking a two point lead with 40 seconds left in regulation after a JayQuan McCloud three pointer.
On their ensuing possession, Oakland sophomore Daniel Oladapo was fouled with 27 seconds left and made both free throws to tie the game at 71 allowing Green Bay to hold the ball for the final shot, a contested jumper from McCloud that was off the mark and the game went to overtime.
“It was up and down the entire game,” assistant coach Ben Swank said on the WDUZ postgame show after the game. “We were up 10 at the half. At the start of the second half we came out flat and let them get some momentum going, get the game at their pace.”
Green Bay burst out to a 7-point lead in the first overtime session after a Cody Schwartz three pointer made it 78-71 with 3:40 left to play, but Oakland would score the next 6 points to get within 1 with 42 seconds to play. After a Hankerson missed three point attempt, Oakland’s Rashad Williams snagged the rebound only to have it stolen by PJ Pipes who got the ball back to Hankerson who was fouled with 12 seconds to go.
Hankerson would make both free throws putting Green Bay up three at 80-77 with 12 seconds left to play setting up a classic basketball coaching dilemma – to foul while up three or not to foul while up three?
The coaching staff apparently elected to not foul but Pipes was called for contact on Oakland’s Tray Maddox sending him to the free throw line for two shots with five seconds left. After making the first, Green Bay head coach Linc Darner called timeout and opted to insert Will Chevalier back into the game instead the Phoenix second-leading rebounder Manny Patterson, replacing Amari Davis.
Out of the timeout, Maddox intentionally missed the second free throw and the Grizzlies perfectly executed a pick play from Brad Brechting allowing Xavier Hill-Mais to grab the offensive rebound and put it back to tie the game at 80 with two seconds left.
McCloud had another look at a last second winner but it was off the mark and the teams went to a second overtime.
“First off, we didn’t want to foul there,” Swank said of the late foul. “We had talked about that and we decided that we didn’t want to foul because of that reason exactly. We’re not a good enough rebounding team to play that strategy so we wanted to play it straight up. Unfortunately they got PJ on a bump call there that sent them to the line.”
“We relayed that they’re going to miss the second one, we just weren’t able to come up with the rebound.”
The teams traded baskets again in the second overtime with Tre Bell breaking an 84-84 tie with a layup with 51 seconds remaining. But it was Hill-Mais, on senior day possibly playing his final game at the O’rena, who hit a backbreaking three pointer with 27 seconds remaining that put the Grizzlies up for good.
Ironically, after Bell missed a jumper and Hill-Mais made two free throws to make it a three point game with 10 seconds left, Oakland decided to foul while up three instead of allowing the Phoenix to get a look at a potential game tying shot. The strategy paid off as McCloud missed the first of two free throws before making the second attempt.
A few seconds later, after Brechting split a pair of free throws setting up the same situation, Oakland again fouled while up three this time with just three seconds remaining. McCloud made the first to cut the lead to two and attempted to intentionally miss the second but was called for a lane violation, turning the ball over to Oakland.
Maddox would hit two more free throws to seal the 92-88 victory for the Golden Grizzlies.
“We just didn’t come up with the plays late in the game that we needed to come up with,” Swank said.
“For the most part we did play well enough to win the game. I thought our guys really gave effort for a lot of the game and really played hard and wanted it.”
Green Bay had been good in close games this season, falling to 7-2 in games decided by four points or less with both losses coming in overtime. The back and forth contest ranks as one of the top ten most exciting games played across college basketball so far this season according to KenPom.com and featured 12 lead changes.
The Phoenix were led by 26 points from McCloud who surpassed the 20 point mark for the 4th time in the past 5 games and is averaging 22.2 points per game in the month of February. Hankerson, playing in his final game in the Detroit area, added 16 points and 4 assists while Davis added 13 and Pipes 11 in the losing effort.
Four players scored at least 17 points for Oakland led by Hill-Mais’ 31 points, 19 from Rashad Williams, and 17-apiece from Oladapo and Maddox.
The loss drops Green Bay to 9-7 and into a three-way third place tie in the Horizon League standings with Youngstown State and UIC. The Phoenix had won 4 of its last 5 before Sunday’s loss.
With two games left, Green Bay can still earn the #3 seed in the conference tournament with two wins and some help. The Phoenix can clinch at least the #4 seed with a win against Youngstown State on Thursday night at the Resch Center.
“We are playing well right now, so that part of it hurts,” Swank said. “We’ve just got to take it, it’s a tough one. We played well, we’re playing well right now.”
“We’ve got two to end the season at home so we’ve got to regroup and get ready for those.”
Categories: Game Recap