After back-to-back losses against the Cleveland State Vikings, the women’s basketball team returned home for a two-game series against Robert Morris University (RMU), starting Friday, Feb. 5.
With six games remaining on their schedule, the Golden Grizzlies added another win to their record, defeating the Colonials 83-71. Once again, Kahlaijah Dean led the way for Oakland, scoring 25 points.
Coming into the game, the Golden Grizzlies sat at seventh out of 12 in the conference at 8-6, needing as many wins as possible to get into the top half of the conference. In an unusual season, where not every team will play the same amount of games, every win counts.
“February’s when you want to play your best basketball,” Head Coach Jeff Tungate said. “Robert Morris is a good team, and I’m really pleased with how we’re running our offense, we shot the ball really well.”
Both teams took their time getting warmed up in what turned out to be a shootout. The first quarter ended, knotted up at 16 apiece. Autumn Kissman played a pivotal role in the first, grabbing two offensive rebounds, scoring four points and dishing out two assists. Kissman would finish with 18 points and four rebounds.
Kayla Luchenbach came off the bench and provided some instant offense for the Golden Grizzlies, hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game at 16, then hitting two free throws to start off the second quarter.
Despite the game being within one possession for nearly 11 minutes, the Colonials pulled out to an eight-point lead after three and a half minutes in the second quarter. A 10-0 run prompted Tungate to take a timeout to adjust.
Following the timeout, the Golden Grizzlies went on a run of their own, scoring 11 unanswered points to take a 29-28 lead. Dean hit two 3-pointers during the run, heating up after a slow start by her standards.
Dean would score 13 points in the second quarter, propelling the Golden Grizzlies to a 44-40 halftime lead. Not only did Dean have 16 at halftime, she had three steals, four rebounds and two assists.
“She’s playing with so much confidence right now and everybody feeds off of that confidence,” Tungate said. “She has the three, she can take it to the basket and she knocks down free throws. That’s what makes her such a special player.”
Other Golden Grizzlies with an impact in the first half were Teneea Heston (six points, two 3-pointers), Breanna Perry (four rebounds) and Breanne Beatty (three points, three rebounds).
Two more Golden Grizzlies got in on the 3-point party in the third, as Beatty and Perry hit threes to increase the Oakland lead to seven with five minutes remaining in the quarter. In total, seven Oakland players hit at least one 3-pointer.
The precipitation from range let up to start the final quarter, with both teams working the ball inside more as the game continued. Robert Morris was able to get back in the game as the Golden Grizzlies turned the ball over twice and fouled three times to start the fourth.
After the team’s sluggish start to the fourth, Dean hit her fourth 3-pointer to keep the Colonials at bay. As she has done all season, Dean led the Oakland offense to a winning fourth quarter, recording six points, two assists and three rebounds in the last quarter alone. Kissman also had a big fourth, with eight of her 18 coming in the final quarter on 4-4 shooting.
The Golden Grizzlies will travel to Milwaukee for their final road series of the season on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13. They close out the season at home against the Northern Kentucky Norse the following weekend, Feb. 19-20.