By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY – The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball team gave up a 20-0 run over eight minutes in the first half Jan. 22 to Oakland.
The result was a 68-61 Horizon League loss at the Kress Events Center.
“It hurt us when (Manny Ansong and Kamari McGee) went out with foul trouble,” Green Bay Head Coach Will Ryan said. “It hurt our momentum. They went on a run the rest of the half. That’s probably your ballgame right there.”
Despite wearing a back brace before the game, Donovan Ivory led Green Bay with 18 points.
Oakland (14-5 overall, 8-1 Horizon) was paced by Jamal Cain’s 26 points and 21 rebounds.
Cain is a Marquette University transfer.
Trey Townsend added 23 points for the visitors.
The Phoenix (4-14, 3-6) committed 17 turnovers and were outmuscled on the glass, 39-24.
The Golden Grizzlies nailed 27-of-30 from the free-throw line and had 11 steals on the night.
As it did in the previous game, Green Bay got off to a flying start.
Ivory’s triple and Meyer’s rebound put-back basket gave the Phoenix a 15-10 lead, as they penetrated Oakland’s 1-3-1 zone defense at will.
With the Phoenix holding their biggest advantage of the game, 22-14, Ansong was assessed his second personal foul.
With McGee already sitting on the pine with a pair himself, the Golden Grizzlies took advantage.
With a 20-0 run over the back part of the first half, Oakland turned an eight-point deficit into a 34-22 lead.
“We had already used a timeout during their run,” Ryan said. “I tend to save timeouts for end-of-game situations. When I look back on it, maybe I should have burned one there. We’ll have to look back and dissect it better.”
The main catalysts behind the Golden Grizzlies spurt were Cain from the outside and the inside presence of Townsend, who combined for 25 first-half points.
Green Bay trailed 38-26 at halftime but cut into the margin in the second half after Oakland’s Micah Parrish was issued his second technical foul and tossed from the contest.
After Ivory made one of two free throws on the technical, Ansong and Meyer hit back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to 42-35 with 16:59 remaining in the game.
It was the closest Green Bay got until the final minute.
On many ensuing possessions, the Golden Grizzlies continued to pound the ball down low and either capitalized on the first attempt or pulled down an offensive rebound and converted on the second opportunity.
After Oakland pushed its lead back to double digits for a majority of the second half, the Phoenix cut the margin to 64-59 after an Ivory triple and Nate Jenkins’ 24-foot jump shot.
“Before (Jenkins) was out with injury and COVID protocols, he was starting to come alive and help us,” Ryan said. “He’s a bigger and stronger kid who helps on the defensive end. He’s a cerebral player who’s in the right position most of the time.”
Cain made sure Green Bay didn’t get any closer, as he sealed the win by knocking down four late free throws.
“For a while there, it seemed like there was a foul being called on almost every possession,” Ryan said. “They got into the bonus early and often. They have guys who are quick to the ball. They got lots of free-throw practice today.”
Green Bay hits the road for four games before coming back home Feb. 9 when it takes on Wright State.