Mid-Continent Tournament Final Recap
For about 30 minutes, the game plan of Oakland head coach Greg Kampe worked.The Golden Grizzlies’ all-time leader in wins knew he had no answer for Oral Roberts forward Caleb Green, but the goal was to stop the other four guys on the floor from contributing.
His biggest fear had to be ORU guard Ken Tutt, and its turns out Kampe had good reason to be fearful. The senior banked in a jumper with 31.6 seconds left as Oral Roberts pulled out a 71-67 victory on Tuesday night to win the Mid-Continent Conference tournament title and a second-straight automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Until the first television timeout of the second half, Green (the three-time Mid-Continent player of the year) wasn’t getting any help from his friends. Green scored 18 of Oral Roberts’ first 26 points and had the Golden Eagles (23-10, 12-2) up 26-24 after he hit a spinning, right-handed layup from the right block to cap a 14-6 run. But the lead didn’t last long.
Green’s game-high 28 points upped his career total to 2,489 points (breaking the Mid-Continent Conference career record by one). Green is the NCAA’s active scoring leader and already held the league’s rebounding record.
In the first half, while Oral Roberts looked drained of energy and confused, Oakland seemingly made every outside shot it looked at–especially guard Erik Kangas. The sophomore hit six first-half three-pointers to stake the second seeded Golden Grizzlies (19-14, 10-4) to a 45-34 halftime lead.
The halftime break quickly ended Oakland’s momentum, though, as Green finally got some assistance after the intermission, and Kangas failed to make a shot in the second stanza.
Tutt got the hometown crowd back involved with a 3-pointer and a jumper to start the second half and sparked a 17-5 run that eliminated ORU’s halftime deficit.
Tutt’s 20 points gave him exactly 2,000 for his career, joining Green to form the seventh-ever set of teammate seach to score 2,000.
Oakland, which made seven-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, went a disappointing 0-fer on three-pointers in the second half to lose its chance at a second NCAA Tournament berth in three years.
Without a perimeter game, Oakland was at a distinct disadvantage; baskets inside the paint were a rarity with Oral Roberts 6-foot-10 center Shawn King blocking four of them.
ORU’s Green and Tutt now look to lead the Golden Eagles to a first-round upset in a likely 3-14 or 4-13 game.