Grizzlies end SDSU’s season


Drue AmanSports Editor

SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said his team would have to play nearly perfect to top Oakland.

It was Oakland who played nearly perfect on their way to a second straight NCAA tournament bid.

The Jacks performed to expectations offensively, but never came within reach in a 110-90 loss as Oakland again proved their status as mid-major elite and SDSU’s season-enders.

The Grizzlies imposed their will early, jumping to a 25-9 start, shot 58 percent for the game and had their non-star players perform like all-conference selections. Sophomore Drew Valentine’s 24 points led the team while sharpshooter Travis Bader cashed in four momentum-draining threes. NBA prospect Keith Benson had his fill, too, finishing with 18 and eight rebounds in a comfortable 27 minutes.

Meanwhile, SDSU’s own sharpshooter, Clint Sargent, was quiet throughout and Dale Moss – a key playmaker in the win over IPFW the previous night – was a non-factor.

“Just frustrated,” said Nate Wolters, who finished with 23 points and seven assists. “It just seems like we never gave ourselves a chance, we couldn’t cut into their lead enough.”

Oakland, playing on a day’s rest, appeared as locked in and loaded as ever, enough to push fans out of the Arena in the game’s closing minutes. They did so in record-setting fashion, recording a new tournament-high 45 field goals and fell eight points short of the single game scoring mark.

They controlled from tip-off, ousting the noise level of a Jacks-centered crowd at the Arena. Reasons for cheering afterward were sparse.

“I was very concerned playing such a talented team as the Jackrabbits at home in front of 6,000 people,” said Oakland head coach Greg Kampe, now 7-1 in tournament games played in Sioux Falls. “We were never in jeopardy, we have a great team that played great tonight.”

And they were great, looking like an NBA D-League team playing in a D-League arena more than a mid-major college basketball squad.

The Jacks made a couple benign pushes, never reaching a single-digit margin despite 52 percent shooting in the second half and getting quality minutes from Chad White and Jordan Dykstra. The Golden Grizzlies saw each of their starting five score in double figures, a trademark for a team among the nation’s best in scoring.

“Basketball’s a game of matchups, and you look at last night we matchup great with IPFW,” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy. “And we don’t with Oakland.”

Not that many teams do. SDSU, among the best scoring teams in the nation along with Oakland, notched an impressive 90 points of their own. But Oakland averaged 1.5 points per offensive possession and seemed to grab an offensive rebound every missed field goal anyway.

That type of offensive proclivity, which Oakland has sustained all season, draws respect from Nagy.

“Oakland is serious,” Nagy said. “Their program is serious.”

As for the Jacks, Kampe noted their potential while comparing his program to SDSU’s, feeling like they are a couple of “athletes” from serious contention. Nagy explained a desire to enter the “big three” of the tournament, noting that those three teams are still playing this season.

For a night, SDSU appeared talented but far from a place in the championship.

“We scored 90 tonight and lost by 20,” Nagy said. “That’s hard for me to swallow, that’s not what I want us to be.”

#1.2074852:917837480.jpg:Nate Wolters:Nate Wolters shoots at the Sioux Falls Arena Monday. Wolter finished with 23 points in the loss. Oakland advanced to the championship in the 110-90 win.:Collegian Photo by Stephen Brua