OAKLAND CITY — The Oakland University basketball women have given themselves 101 reasons to believe they can avenge two regular-season losses come Wednesday in Wilmore, Kentucky.
The Lady Oaks earned a semifinal matchup with Asbury on Wedesnday at 4:30 p.m. CST by shooting past Point Park, 101-75, in Monday afternoon’s Rivers State Conference tournament opener in the Johnson Center.
“You always have a good chance when you hit shots,” said Lady Oaks head coach FahKara Malone after her team shot 53.2% overall and 42.9% from 3 and giving themselves an 8-14 record — the record is misleading since all eight of those wins have come in their last 11 games after an 0-11 start.
“They out played us from start to finish, they kicked our butts,” said Point Park head coach Tony Grenek whose team arrived from Pittsburgh with a 6-4 record.
“I think they shot 61% in the first-quarter and kept shooting well all game.”
Keeping a hot hand they enabled a Lady Oaks to avenge a pair of losses to Asbury University including one that came in overtime at the Johnson Center.
“Their No. 21 hit shots,” Grenek said of Lady Oaks sophomore Tabby Klem, who shot 9-13 overall and 6-9 on 3s in route to a game-high 25 points. “And their No. 10 was sensational,” the rival coach said of Lady Oaks junior Taylor Dillard, who shot 9-for-16 from the field in a 19-point effort with a game-high 10 assists and three steals.
6-foot-2 sophomore Malia Schmittler came off the bench and scored 17 points; sophomore Emilee Hope scored 16 points that she added in addition to eight rebounds, nine assists and a game-high five steals.
Princeton bred, 5-foot-6 junior Kiare Young scored seven points while dishing and matched Schmittler’s two blocks before fouling out late-game.
Gibson Southern alum Jordyn Graham played the final four minutes, hitting a three on her only shot attempt. Two minutes later, Newburgh native McKendree Ward scored on a put-back to put the Lady Oaks over 100 points for the first time this season.
Despite taking a lead of 20-12 after Young became the scoring with a 15-point jumper followed by a pair of Klem threes, the Mighty Oaks were challenged. Held scoreless for five minutes in the second quarter, the Lady Oaks found their lead cut to 34-28 when the Lady Pioneers scored seven straight points. Dillard’s 16-footer snapped the dry spell in what became a 44-31 first-half.
Klem, who scored 19 of her points in the second half, hit a pair of 3s and pair of twos in the third quarter’s first three minutes.
Those shots grew in importance when Point Park 5-foot-7 sophomore Taylor Kirschner hit a six-footer and a 3, and 5-foot-8 sophomore Jordan Yaniga scored to move her team within five. Still ahead, because of Klem’s sniping, the Lady Oaks replied with an 18-2 run begun by Schmittler’s turn-around jumper. She scored three more times, including a three-point play that brought a 75-51 lead into the fourth quarter.
“When they gave us a good run, we showed our maturity,” Malone said. “We took a punch and came back. That’s something we’ve worked on all season. Tabby is just a really good scorer and she takes advantage of her abilities. Kiare is so versatile and has been giving us good rhythm on the offensive end,” her coach said.”
“We ran out of gas, Grenek said. “I hoped they’d keep the pace and wear out but they didn’t and we did.”
The 20-year-old Klem said, “It comes with the energy we had coming out the halftime locker room. Coach said we were greatly energized.
“We came out hot and ran in transition. My teammates got me good shots. When they challenged us, we stayed poised and came together as a team. We kept running in transition.”
Malone said the game plan included tried trying to slow down senior Michelle Burns. The 5-foot-4 guard scored 17 points but needed 17 shots for six baskets, including 5-for-13 on treys to get there. She also pitched a team-high five assists.
Taylor Rinn, a 5-foot-9 sophomore who scored 21 points to lead the Lady Pioneers in scoring.
What will it take for the Lady Oaks to top Asbury? “We’re ready; we played them twice and those were good games. We want to do what we did tonight, said Young, who added, “Tabby not only shot excellently, she did a good job on the boards.”
Malone said the Lady Oaks “can’t allow Asbury to make 17 3s again.”
“We’re excited about going to Asbury,” said Klem. “We’ve got to play good defense on their shooters, now will rest our legs for two days and come out with a lot of energy.”
Should the Lady Oaks beat Asbury, they’ll play a semifinal game Saturday with the opponent to be determined.
A loss larger than expected capped the Oakland City University Men’s Basketball season Monday night in Kokomo.
Two nights after giving themselves confidence by forcing Indiana-Kokomo to go overtime for a 91-83 Saturday win at the Johnson Center the Mighty Oaks fell 112-76 in Monday’s opening round Rivers State Conference.
On the court where they took a 115-65 loss in December, the Mighty Oaks closed their season with a 5-18 record. Indiana-Kokomo will take a 7-1 mark into Wednesday’s second-round matchup with West Virginia Tech in Beckley, West Virginia.
“They shot much better tonight than they did Saturday (12-for-22 from 3-point range) and they took 16 offensive rebounds,” Oakland City head coach Lee Moore said.
“We also had 14 turnovers to their eight. Saturday, we had 18 turnovers.”
In their season under Eric Echelbarger, son of former Princeton Community High School head coach Marty Echelbarger the Cougars will play a semifinal game Saturday if they get a measure of revenge on Wednesday.
“We’ve been in the championship game the last two years,” Echelbarger said. “West Virginia Tech beat us in 2019 final and Indiana University East beat us in last year’s final.
“We had better ball movement tonight than we did Saturday, and we also did a good job defensively. We got a little tougher than we were Saturday, when we weren’t doing what we needed to do.
“We had six guys score in double-figures. Trequan Spivey gave us a big game with 33 points and eight rebounds,” his coach said of the 6-foot-1 senior who shot 4-for-8 on 3s.
“This wasn’t a blowout from the start, but it became one heading into halftime. Four minutes before halftime, they led by about six points. But we were in foul trouble since several of our guys had two fouls.
“With 21/2 minutes to go in the first half, they hit four or five shots in a row and we had a couple of turnovers. It was 65-36 at halftime.”
Two Cougars, 5-foot-11 Hunter Jackson and 6-foot-4 classmate Julian Hunter, each scored 15 points. Jackson hit two 3s and shot 6-for-6 on free throws. Hunter shot 5-for-5 at the line.
6-foot-1 sophomore Sam Skaggs scored 14 shot 4-for-5 from the field. 6-foot-3 senior Billy Webster shot 5-9 from the field. Hunter and Desean Hampton each took seven rebounds.
In a zone, 6-foot-4 freshman Donovan McNeal led the Mighty Oaks with 15 points by shooting 5-for-8 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. McNeal also took seven rebounds. Evansville North graduate 5-foot-11 sophomore DJ Redding scored 14. North Posey bred 5-foot-10 junior Jacob Sanford scored 13, including going 5-for-12 from the charity stripe. 6-foot-4 freshman Tewon Kelly scored 14. 6-foot-7 senior center Nathaniel Schmittler was held to six points in his career finale after scoring 17 Saturday.
“Tewon made his only 3-point try, but our team shot just 1-for-14 on 3s,” Moore noted. “We shot only 25-60 (41.6%) from the floor.
In recapping the season, Moore said, “We were sometimes on interstates, but much of the time we were on difficult roads that were country and mostly gravel. We did play some of our best basketball later, including how our kids stepped against IU-Kokomo at home.
“As I told our kids before we left Kokomo, I’m pleased with their effort this season despite our record. We can put that work into the offseason and come back strong next season.”
“We didn’t play West Virginia Tech in the regular season, but we did play a game there previously. It’s a 4,000-seat gym,” Echelbarger said.